2013 Writers Victoria Program Launch

On Friday 30 November, Writers Victoria, our companion organisation in Melbourne, held a wildly successful launch of its 2013 program, Craft Your World with Words. Writers Victoria is going from strength to strength, with 3000 members, and it seemed as if most of them were there.

I live in Ballarat, but despite the distance it was a great experience to attend this event wearing my hat as president of Editors Victoria, and to represent our 620 members — especially since we have an ad in the program being launched, and we appear twice in the program events: past president Liz Steele in the Summer School offerings, and on a Special Events panel later in the year.

Our advertisement in the launch program stood out clearly from the page in our new red livery. Kath Harper had crafted some appropriate words for it that tied in well with the program's theme, and I felt pretty chuffed that we hadn't just 'placed an ad' — we proved the point that editors are mindful content specialists. We pay attention to what is going on around the words we work with. We consider the audience. We say it clearly.

Introducing the program, Writers Victoria director Roderick Poole managed to be humorous and interesting in the same breath, as well as sounding responsible, and a great steward of the association — quite an achievement. It sounds like a great place to work and volunteer.

The program manager, Mary Napier, gave a personal account of her time with Writers Victoria, and wove into the speech a mathematical challenge to work out the significance of the date. The number seven features prominently but, as they say, you had to be there.

Dmetri Kakmi gave a spellbinding keynote speech that began, appropriately, with Genesis and the significance of the word in creating order out of chaos, and went on to link the etymology of words such as text and textiles as the act of weaving of and in social spaces. His description of the creative power of the word in the hands of writers, who craft the social fabric of the cultural times in which they live, was inspiring. It was also right up to date with more formal academic thinking in cultural sociology.

It was hard to keep our eyes on the speaker at times. The Auslan interpreter was expressive and interesting, and the crowd was made to feel it was missing something — a refreshing change for those with full hearing, and a nice reversal of position for those who see what we are saying, rather than hear it.

The wine flowed and the room was decked out in craft-inspired items from knitting to old typewriters and other strange machines from the past. A changing PowerPoint display featured writers engaged in other crafts (Dmetri Kakmi made a convincing chef: stylish, with just enough hauteur). Periodically, a hare sporting handcrafted knickers appeared — I guess this demonstrates that writers are on the creative side of wordcraft, the flamboyant ones.

A highlight for me was the music: a giant xylophone, double bass and ukulele trio, the Wikimen — astonishing virtuosity. I could hardly believe my ears when they broke out into Rat Fink (something I thought had disappeared off the planet along with my childhood).

Writers Victoria has an increasingly sophisticated and diverse program for writers which we find inspiring in a companion organisation.  We share a reciprocal discount arrangement for events, and many Editors Victoria members are also members of Writers Victoria.  If both our groups maintain their direction and continue incrementally improving as we have done so far, we cannot ask for more.

I hope to see you at the Christmas dinner, for which we've lashed out (and ordered dessert for a change). Petra and Sabita have a quiz planned, we have great prizes, and we'd like everyone to bring along a children's book or two to donate to The Smith Family Christmas Toy & Book Appeal.

In addition, I hope as many of you as possible will consider coming to the Editors Conference in Perth in April. I've booked, and added a couple of extra days to justify going that distance. I'm sure it will be great. It's a matter of girding our loins and budgeting to do it.

I'd like to wish you, and all our members, friends and families, a happy festive season and the best year ever in 2013.

Trischa Mann