Month: August 2014

Creativity and Craziness: Discovering your inner creature with Jeanette Winterson and Susie Orbach

“I tried to kill myself, it didn’t work.” On the final day of the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival 2014, these are the surprising words spoken by world-renowned British writer, Jeanette Winterson. In conversation with her partner and personal therapist, Susie Orbach, Winterson took the audience on a journey through her struggles as a writer and getting through life as a successful human being. Winterson said the moment when the craziness caught up with her was during the loss of a relationship that she was not prepared for. It’s “like a death” she said. “I’d always had enough fuel and energy to push me forward, and find a way through using language and writing,” she said. Winterson said she always thought she could stay “ahead of the fire”, but during this experience of loss, it caught up with her. “It caused me to go into a place that was completely terrifying because I’d lost language… I lost any sense of being able to describe what was happening to me,” she said. Orbach then raised the question as …

Stories of our wide brown land: Alex Miller, Inga Simpson and Tony Birch

In The Wide Brown Land panel of Byron Bay Writers’ Festival, Tony Birch, Inga Simpson and Alex Miller spoke of their return to places where they each spent formative years, and of the every day things at the heart of their stories. The Yarra has been an obsession for Tony Birch whose latest book is highly-acclaimed short story collection, The Promise. Although he lived in the inner city, he never saw the beach until he was 10, and saw the Yarra at Moomba. When his family moved to Richmond, he would spend his time swimming at the river and stealing cars. He would stay at the river all day, there was nowhere else to go and be himself. “I couldn’t have understood it better than I did then in an emotional sense. It taught me to understand environment,” Birch said. When the Eastern Freeway was built and took the swimming spot away, he was distraught and had no language to write about it. Birch does a lot of “field work” where he sees the stories …

Getting to the Truth: Courage and Persistence in Investigative Journalism

For many years, investigative journalism has played a vital role in initiating the battle for justice for victims of some of the state’s worst crimes. Names like Newcastle Herald reporter Joanne McCarthy, who through her efforts in investigative journalism and strong campaigning saw the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse established. Kate McClymont who last week released her book He Who Must Be Obeid, spent years exposing the corrupt dealings of Eddie Obeid through her consistent investigative journalism which helped establish a series of ICAC inquiry’s into the matter. And Colleen Ryan who last year released her book Fairfax: the Rise & Fall and who through her reporting has also played a prominent role in events such as the Alan Bond WA Inc. and Offset Alpine scandals. Speaking to a packed tent at the 2014 Byron Bay Writers’ Festival, the Gold Walkley award winning trio shared their experiences of dealing with major stories as they came to hand. As the audience got comfortable in their seats, McCarthy spoke about how she believes there is no …

Susie Orbach: What’s going on with girl’s bodies?

Young girls are being primed to look at their bodies as a site they have to change from as young as five, warned Susie Orbach, academic, activist, author and one of the editors of Fifty Shades of Feminism. The author of many books including Fat Is A Feminist Issue and Bodies at Byron Bay Writers’ Festival, Orbach said that so much “work” is being done on children’ that, “by the time kids enter school we are seeing massive body disturbances.” “The woman’s body becomes a calling, the body becomes the thing you work on.” This extends even to have surgery on the labia because they hate the way it looks, said Orbach. “It doesn’t matter what age a girl or women is, there are always procedures.” In the past bulimia arose in late adolescence and now we are seeing at age five, said Orbach. “The women’s body has become a calling. The body has becomes the thing you work on.” “It’s starting earlier with baby photos being photo-shopped to add dimples. “You are supposed to have …