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And true to its founding mission 12 years ago to bring people together, Indonesians and internationals in open dialogue, more than a third of the 168 speakers were Indonesian novelists, journalists and poets.Happy yellow and white festival flags mounted on tall, arched bamboo poles, like heads bowed in prayer, lined the main festival strip.With four concurrent panel sessions daily, plus literary dinners, lunches, a poetry slam, comedy club and writing workshops, the choice was as dizzying as a head spin from smoking clove cigarettes.Some “word nerds” like me confessed to creating a spreadsheet of dog eared events so as not to miss our personal favourites: Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon, Man Booker (2015) nominee Chigozie Obioma, North Korea defector Hyeonsono Lee, Indonesia rising literary star Eka Kurniawan the list went on. I Googled it when I got home. For a lapsed journalist transitioning to fiction, it a safe zone where fact and literary affectation happily coexist.I thought I write “the great Australian novel” while nursing my son Van. He nearly three and weaned and my ideas are still locked away in my mental file.Melbournian Athi was exploring her Cypriot heritage through memoir.Lydia, from Darwin, was inspired by her Indonesian father John Gawa, a revivalist of a dying artform: Pantun, a 15th century Malay love poetry tradition.This theme of diverse voices was also celebrated by UWRF and adopted as its festival tagline.I kicked off the festival with a three hour writing workshop: Using Fear as a Tool. When our Iranian American tutor Porochista Khakpour held up a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert latest book, Big Magic,
embroidered polo shirts for women Ubud Writer's Festival a meeting of minds
my heart sank. Oh no, not another Eat, Pray, Love devotee.Perhaps I belong to a minority of readers who can stand this bestselling women bible on personal freedom. Gilbert broke up her marriage to pig out in Italy, navel gaze in India and find a rebound relationship in Bali, which happily worked out for her.But I didn walk out. I stayed and listened. Big Magic, in Khakpour words, is about “how to have fear as a side companion to good things”. This is normal.Even Chabon said he was gripped by fear and paralysis by a sizeable publisher advance.Khakpour identifies three big hurdles to writing: not having ideas; having ideas but not being able to express them; having the ideas and skill but lacking the courage to write.A quote Khakpour shared by the late poet Jack Gilbert (no relation to Elizabeth) resonated with me: “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you say yes”.So “yes”, I said to the three minute writing exercise in which words poured out unchecked; “yes” to the bullet point memory exercise in which I jotted down random childhood recollections; “yes” to the point of view exercise writing about a fear that not my own; and finally “yes” to the Predicament This last exercise breaks down elements of plot into physical, emotional and moral. The first scene I wrote described just the physical. I drawn to journalists turned novelists such as Ernest Hemingway and Australia Robert Drewe for their brevity; their knack of using fewer words to say more.India Dreaming Rondji restaurant.The class was set the challenge of rewriting a simple character description to “show” rather than tell and to imagine we were in a natural environment and describe, lyrically, what we saw. Naturally, I try to rephrase things to see and hear what makes an imprint on a reader mind. To achieve audacious prose you must revise”.I drew a blank as I surveyed thestark room. Roaring traffic, loud bantering Bahasa and an untiring rooster crow had hijacked my senses.I saw eager faces bent over notepads as fellow accessed their imaginations, and I thought enviously,
embroidered polo shirts for women Ubud Writer's Festival a meeting of minds
crafted audacious prose.