Monday, 29 August 2011

Around ACMI on Sunday - weird women and writers.

While waiting to order a coffee yesterday morning, I watched an interaction between an elderly woman and the young man behind the counter.

It began with the familiar format.  The woman placed her coffee order and then also ordered two muffins.  All of it to take away.  The server then asked for payment.  This is where it went off script.

"Why is it that much?" the woman asked.

The man behind the counter went through the prices for everything.  He was very nice, helpful.

"But I don't have any money," she said.

Here we go, I thought.

"You'll just have to trust me.  I don't have the money on me and the film is about to start."  We were at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

I was ready to step forward and offer to pay when the question took strange twist.

"Why did he tell me not to bring my bag?"

I could see the man behind the counter get "the look" in his eye, while keeping it all together.  His next question showed a great deal of bravery, I thought.

"Who told you not bring your bag?"

"The man I'm with," she replied.

There was no one with her. He shifted a little; looked like he'd rather be colouring in his tattoos.

The muffins were taken back.  Apparently the coffees were part of a voucher deal with the movie ticket.  It made a little more sense now.

Off she went.

Off I went to see Steve Hely at the Melbourne Writers Festival - author of the funniest book I've read for a long time (see my recent post The Book is Dead - long live the book!).  Joining him at the session on the "Satire of Publishing"  were Peter Salmon as host and Peter Barry as a guest.

Now if you clicked on the link, you will have discovered that the session was actually called "The Comedy of Publishing".  Satire isn't mentioned.   Unsettling isn't it?  Well the panel host got the name of Steve Hely's book wrong every time he said it!  I couldn't believe it.  The book is called "How I Became a Famous Novelist".  Its alternative title is "How I wrote a bestselling novel".  Wrong!  And Steve Hely was too polite to correct him.  I would have!  Especially since the follow up questions were about how he, Steve Hely, had now become a famous novelist.

This was a very funny and engaging session where they even talked about the necessity of a daily writing habit.  That if you lose the habit, the muscles forget how and it is hard to write.  And Steve Hely shared that he has a sign above his workspace which reminds him that even bad work is work.  I find it very reassuring that I as a writer, sitting at my kitchen table, am having the same struggles as the writer who has written the latest publishing sensation.

And yes, I did meet Steve Hely.  I'm getting better at this.  I told him that people have been glaring at me when I guffaw on the train and look jealously over to see what I'm reading. And that when I purchased the book, I didn't realise it was a novel.  I thought it was a genuine memoir.  Maybe even a "how to" bible.   He thought this was hilarious too.

He was very nice.  Shaped a bit like Beaker from the Muppets.  But with brown hair.

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