There are few people better equipped to talk about the challenges of being an emerging writer than Sam Twyford-Moore, who directs the festival devoted to them. With the Emerging Writers Festival coming up fast, we spoke with Twyford-Moore and three of this year’s featured writers about making writing work, and how events such as EWF can help this to happen. Plus, they’ve thrown in their tips from the festival's jam-packed program.

Sam Twyford-Moore
(Director, Emerging Writers' Festival)

For writers, Moore says questions such as, “Where do I fit?” and “Is there even any room for me?” don’t go away, even with time. Ten years into his career, he's still asking himself these things.

“There will be friends who can help you think about these questions in a critical and creative way,” he says, before explaining that a big part of the festival is about creating a space for this, and for writers to “ask these questions together, in a really honest and meaningful way.”

While stressing that her success is very much her own, Moore is proud that the festival played a part in Maxine Beneba Clarke’s career. Clarke, who won last year's Premier's Literary Award, met her publisher, Rob Watkins, after he saw her perform a reading at the festival. Soon after which, Moore says, they were, signing a three-book deal together.

Clarke and Watkins are telling their story at this year’s festival:

When Writer Met Editor (The National Writers’ Conference event)
Yarra Room, Melbourne Town Hall
May 31 at 2pm

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For a festival director who lives and breathes the EWF year round, Twyford-Moore says picking highlights is like being asked to choose your favourite child. But with a push, he gives us:

No Lights, No Literature
“A panel held in the dark, with all the panellists remaining anonymous throughout.”
The Wheeler Centre
May 28 at 10pm

(Editor of Filmme Fatales, editor and copywriter at The Good Copy, staff writer at Rookie)
One of the hardest things about becoming a writer, Lancaster has found, has been actually calling herself a writer. “There's always a bit of imposter syndrome trickling in.”

She's is excited about:

Live in the Studio: Exploring the ABC
A panel of commentators, including Broadsheet contributors Max Olijnyk and Toby Fehily, along with Penny Modra, discuss the history of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, from its humble beginnings to its contemporary programming.

Jun 4 at 7pm
$15 per person, $12 concessions

(Publisher and editor-in-chief at The Lifted Brow, freelance writer, teacher (writing) at Melbourne University and Victoria University, member of the advisory committee for the Emerging Writers' Festival)

Cooney says, for him, “Reconciling my ambition with my actual abilities has always been frustrating, and sometimes disheartening – it's a crevasse that can feel impossible to bridge.” He agrees with Lancaster and Twyford-Moore that a huge part of the festival is its creation of a place where writers can gain a sense of mutual affirmation.

Cooney's highlights include:

Mixtape Memoirs Night
Shamelessly plugging his own Lifted Brow event, Cooney says, “[This] is going to supersede any and every other event at the festival.”
The Toff In Town
June 4 at 7.30pm
$15 per person, $12 concessions

Like a Writing Desk
“Aden Rolfe’s radio play that is about birds but is really about you.”
The Wheeler Centre
June 5 at 7.30pm

Sweatshop’s #Three Jerks
“Sweatshop collective features a performance from three of my favourite writers/thinkers/shit-stirrers. Actually #Three Jerks will be by far the best event at the festival. Damn.”
The Wheeler Centre
May 30 at 7pm
$15 per person, $12 concessions
Recommended for 18+

(Writer/presenter on The Checkout (ABC1), currently writing a book and co-creator of Story Club (ABC2))

With thoughts similar to those of her peers, Lodge says, “The hardest thing about being an emerging writer is mapping out a career path. Events like EWF are a great way of finding out how other people have managed to make it work.”

She’s excited for:

The National Writers’ Conference
“Where I can learn about a whole bunch of stuff I have absolutely no idea about.”
Melbourne Town Hall
May 31 to June 1 from 9am
From $45 to $85 per person

Melbourne’s Emerging Writers' Festival runs from May 27 to June 6. For more information and the full programme see the website.