Open Navigation

Noted – how I love a panel

March 19, 2015

Nerdburger that I am, the professional development stream of Noted Festival 2015 is the one that excites me the most.

Friends and colleagues have heard me declare my love of a good panel countless times. And as far as good panels are concerned – Noted 2015’s Ask Me Anything series is putting some seriously impressive writers and arts professionals in the spotlight: digital marketer Patrick Lenton, whose blog The Spontaneity Review makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis, Lex Hirst who co-directs the National Young Writers Festival and edits for Random House and multi-award winning screenwriter Niki Aken who cut her teeth on shows like Underbelly and Anzac Girls.

I enjoy writers on panels the same way I enjoy comedians in interviews. Whether or not you’re familiar with the content they put out into the world, getting to see them as conversationalists is another thing entirely and offers an intriguing glimpse of the person behind the craft.

At one such panel last year, I witnessed a really-quite-famous and highly acclaimed Australian author lament the need for contemporary novelists to be celebrities as well as writers, the notion of writers as personalities (I’m omitting the author in question’s name in case I want to interview her for a podcast about the personal lives of famous people one day). The publicity trail, the book signings, the panels, the readings, she’d had enough of it all. “If you want to know the writer, read the book,” she said, exasperated. Fair? Or spoiled?

There was a writer who’d managed – by virtue of sheer talent and hard work in fairness – to carve out a career, a wage and significant acclaim in a creative field that is notoriously competitive and underpaid. Her books have been awarded and widely purchased. As an emerging writer, I felt the blow of her retort with the full force of a literary tome to the head. I mean really, cry me a river.

I’ve thought a lot about her words over the past year and have come to appreciate the concept, if not the delivery, of her protest. Should writers be expected to appear off the page? Now that we’re living in an age where it’s easy to access podcasts, interviews and live events featuring our favourite writers, does this mean it’s harder to gain exposure if you just plain want to write? Have we turned professional writing into a spectator sport?

Perhaps this is a question for Patrick Lenton.

If you have burning questions about writing in a digital age, what the book publishing process entails, or whether writing for TV is all it’s cracked up to be, why not tweet your question to @NotedFestival and come and see what our writers/celebrities have to say.

Click here for full details of the Ask Me Anything series.

Lucy Nelson, Noted Festival