Saturday, April 19, 2014

Swancon Panel: Writing: The Lifestyle

Today, I was on a panel at Swancon about the writing lifestyle. Which, for me as a long short story writer, largely relates to holidays and early morning rises before work. The other panelists were Isobelle Carmody, Anne Bishop, David Luckett, and Cat Sparks.

Being relatively new to the craft,  I felt a little like a minnow in the room beforehand (as I work and don't make a sole living out of stories) but that feeling dissipated quickly due to the friendly, welcoming, and respectful nature of the panelists.

As for habits of the panel: some of us write at cafes (I often do),while others have a strict home routine (which I do too on holidays). What seems important to most is trying to maintain life balance. Writing is, after all, a solitary and consuming and hence, potentially dangerous craft.

Isobelle Carmody has a zest for living and writing. She prefers to write in cafes as the buzz of people makes the craft a little more social. She's quite similar to me in that if she takes herself to a cafe, she knows that she's there for a specific reason and can't fall asleep or be distracted by life or other responsibilities. Before workdays, I also often go for a morning ride and a quick write at a cafe to keep in practice.  I work in a more disciplined fashion during my time off work.

When writing at home and it's fair weather out, Isobelle plays soundtracks of actual rain to keep her in that Gothic writing groove. 

I met Cat Sparks for the first time at the Aurealis Awards in Sydney a couple of years ago and we had a great time, so it felt like a brief reunion of sorts. I felt that Cat, a multiple award winning short story writer, was far too severe on herself during the panel with regards to not having written a completed novel. I think we all need to celebrate every writing achievement and Cat Sparks has achieved plenty in the world of speculative short fiction. We all have goals and ambitions but Cat has been a stalwart over a vast period of time and that's something to rejoice in. 

David Luckett was both dour and philosophical and also quite entertaining as he challenged the whole notion of lifestyle.

Anne Bishop appeared to have great balance within her own life and strongly suggested to all that it wasn't always the case. I admired her open way with the audience. Anne is a disciplined 'home' writer by day. And her healthy lifestyle seems to have helped her in terms of both her writing and life in general.

All panelists were genuine and warm. All love the craft, although David's love was more veiled. I hope the audience got something out of it as I certainly did. 

Book Buying: I bought copious amounts of books (as usual) from Ticonderoga Press and Twelfth Planet Press tables and also the Ann & Jeff VanderMeer anthology of time travel stories: The Time Traveler's Almanac. I have bibliophilic issues...

Currently Reading: Dangerous Women ed George RR Martin & Gardner Dozois, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, which will be followed by The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble and an expository text about Neanderthals: The Neanderthals Rediscovered by Dimitra Papagianni & Michael A. Morse.

Happy reading and writing!



  1. Sounds like you had a good time, Anthony! You must live VERY near school if you get time to do things before work! I leave home at 6.40 am when nothing is open yet anyway. But I do like cafe writing when I can do it, because it keeps me from getting distracted and making excuses to leave my computer. If I want a pot of tea or lunch, someone will make it for me. No phone to answer either, as no one will call my mobile unless it's vital. :-)
    I know Isobelle and Dave, they're both lovely. Pity it's so hard to get Dave to Melbourne!

  2. Hi Sue. Nice to hear from you. Leave for work at 7-7:30am. I wake up anywhere between 4:30 and 6am. Which gives me a little time. My creative juices are completely spent by the end of the working day.

    Cafe writing can be great. As for the panel: Isobelle is lovely. She has an energetic warmth and vibrancy about her, Dave certainly has a sense of humour - you can see that the cantankerous, grumpy facade veils a kind heart (he may disagree). Anne's beautiful - balanced and very grounded too, despite all her success.

    That's just what I know of them from the panel.

    Thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. I loved that panel, Anthony! You brought a fresh perspective to the topic which complemented the contributions of the other panellists. I was on a worldbuilding panel with Anne Bishop, Doug Burbidge, Jim Butcher and Dave Luckett. They all had different viewpoints but all were valid and interesting.

  4. Thanks, Satima. Glad you enjoyed it. You are never really entirely sure, so I appreciate your comment. Worldbuilding would have been great. Glad to hear that your launch was a great success too.