Day two has been and gone in sweat, in knowledge and in good food.
The day began with Have Pen, Will Write, a session which pretty much shredded all your stereotypes about writers (working in pyjamas, sleeping in all day, seamlessly writing eloquently at any hour they desire). All panellists spoke of the strain and the pain involved in writing and what the average day of a writer looks like.
Buy Me The Sky was an intimate conversation with author Xinran regarding China’s one-child policy that, as of YESTERDAY AFTERNOON was abolished after 26 years. She said she had 21 international interviews over the course of the evening as her latest novel addressed the relational and cultural impact this policy had on the generations of Chinese. This hour was incredibly powerful- being so close to a literary representative of such a historically important moment was an honour. Xinran spoke of the three levels of this policy:
1. City residents: Allowed only one child, no question or else you lose your job, your home, everything.
2. Residents of the countryside: If your first child is a girl, you may have a second. It was a disgrace if you didn’t have a man in the family, for your legacy could not be carried through another generation.
3. Minorities (5% of population): allowed up to 4 children.
I became so interested in this element of Chinese history I spent my week’s budget, bought her book and got it signed. Books remain the only item I spend money on overseas.
Afterwards, Men and Mountains was my session of choice. Founder of Lonely Planet Tony Wheeler (who bought a shitbox car with his wife in London and drove it as far as it could go- ending up in Afghanistan) and author Jono Lineen (who spent 5 months alone trekking the Himalayas) provided great insight into the transcending power of metaphor. “Mountains must be balanced with rivers. You need the vision from the top and also the lasting clarity from the depths.” Also powerful: “The strange thing in a strange land is the stranger who visits it”.
On a Deadline was my last session for the day. It was hot, and I hadn’t eaten enough and the pool at my accommodation was calling so I left early. I love sitting in on conversations about the act of writing itself, and this was no exception. “Show up and write even when you don’t feel like it”.
I have a long list of Books To Read after the first two days. I’m sure it will only grow with the final two to come.
My dear friend from Wollongong arrives tonight, so it will be lovely having a friend overseas with me – the first one ever! Oh to have conversation in the pool and over dinner and, let’s be honest, someone to take the odd photo of me in some of these special places (so it doesn’t look like I’m just Googling them and simply hiding away in my bedroom in Australia….).