I’m back from my whirlwind trip in Melbourne (which left me with a sore throat and a cold, as always), where I had amazing food, coffee, and catchups with blogging friends! I flew down to Melbourne to see Patrick Ness, whose Chaos Walking series I adore and had so many fun adventures along the way.
Although I missed Toby and my husband terribly, so many of you came out to see me and spend time with me and it was amazing finally meeting – and seeing bloggers who I’ve interacted with for years! Every single catch up left me with a lasting impression – from those who I’ve only seen online but never talked to, to those I’ve grown close to after blogging with online, to those I interact with on a regular basis but have never met. It just really brought home the fact that blogging and meeting book friends definitely does extend beyond the online realm – some of whom have grown to be my very close friends.
Some highlights from my trip include:
- Doing our live #OzYAY show on air in the ABC Melbourne studio
- Going to the Alice in Wonderland exhibition at ACMI
- Meeting Patrick Ness and getting my books signed, also seeing his panel with Jesse Andrews & C.S. Pacat
- All the amazing brunch, lunch and dinner catch ups (and the shopping of course)
Patrick Ness & Jesse Andrews Panel
Being my first Melbourne book event which was also held on a Monday night, I really didn’t know what to expect, but it turns out the Melbourne book community really does show up! Hosted by C.S. Pacat, whose Fence comics I love, it was such a fascinating discussion. Patrick and Jesse talked about screenwriting, which they’ve recently ventured into, writing for the YA audience, and also writing their recent books. While the panel was enlightening, engaging and definitely funny, a lot of us were pretty offended by some of the jokes that were made.
Jesse Andrews joked about wanting to write a “White Panther” screenplay which made a lot of us really uncomfortable. At the peak of white male privilege, this comment is just so ignorant and demonstrates the micro-aggressions against POC. So many POC work tirelessly to get into these jobs, and here you have someone who just happened to “fall into it” despite being a self-proclaimed crappy writer rubbing it in their faces. No matter how talented you are, or how hard you work, sometimes you will never get a look in just because of your name or your skin colour, and having someone like Jesse joking about this didn’t sit well with me. Saying that you want to write a White Panther screenplay, erases all the important representation that the movie Black Panther and writers such as Angie Thomas and Tomi Adeyemi have worked tirelessly to offer. It made me glad that I haven’t read any of his books, one of which Jenna rated 2 stars.
Now let’s talk about Patrick Ness. I’ve read and loved many of his books, but after witnessing some blow ups online on social media, I actually unfollowed him a while ago. It was great hearing from him talking about his book and his craft and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Until the audience Q&A, where he said he maintains writing inspiration with “a good wank and a hot water bottle”. Other than that, I was really excited to meet him and get my books signed.
The authors were asked a question by a person with a disability in the audience, which I highlight below. Both of the authors told the audience member to write a book herself – because it doesn’t matter what they, as abled people wrote about disabled people. It mattered that more #ownvoices readers were empowered to write their own stories. Unfortunately, being at the peak of white author privilege, it actually does matter what they write about a book and if they included disabled characters, that both authors would address this in a non-harmful way. Not everyone is gifted with the writing craft, and most of the time, the system is working against the marginalised. While I can see their intent behind what they said, I think more should be done by all authors, especially those who are already successful to make sure the marginalised are well represented.
Question from the audience: How do you change the narrative in disability where it’s celebrated instead of a tragedy?
Patrick encourages her to write her own book & tell her own story. Jesse “the system is against it but we should empower ppl who want to tell their own stories.”
— Jeann (@happyindulgence) May 7, 2018
Thoughts on the online community
If there’s one thing my recent trip left me with – it’s that what you see online is never the truth. Whether that’s with the authors that I saw and have idolised through their writing – or the many blogger friendships that we see cultivated online. Through carefully curated tweets and social media, we never really see the true story aside from what people want you to see. People who I thought I would spend more time with happened to just past by, whereas others who I didn’t expect to be having deep & meaningful conversations with really surprised me.
It’s easy to feel envious of online friendships, or feel isolated from the blogging community, especially when everyone is tweeting each other and sharing in their mutual experiences. While connecting with different book lovers online and meeting them in person can be the best thing ever, it made me realise that sometimes, I’ve let some of my real life friendships slip by because of the online community. There’s a certain comfort in not having to introduce yourself or even to prove yourself again – and I should appreciate everyone in my life. It was a great reminder to me, which is why I reached out to a high school friend and caught up with her in Melbourne.
My latest video talks about my love/hate relationship with the bookish community – particularly the one on social media. Check it out on my channel or directly below!
Let’s chat! Have you attended any bookish events in person? What are your thoughts on author privilege and the blogging community?
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