EWF x UWRF Exchange

Following from the success of past exchanges with Bali Emerging Writers Festival, EWF is sending a festival artist to Ubud Writers and Readers Festival this year! In exchange, EWF will  be hosting an Indonesian writer at this year’s festival in Melbourne (more on that soon!).

We are pleased to announce that 2016 festival artist Bri Lee will  be our exchangee with  the largest literary and cultural event in  Southeast Asia. We spoke with her about  her writing, UWRF,  and what she’s got planned.

What are you looking forward to the most for your time at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival?
There’s a really special feeling of optimism and belonging I get at writers festivals. They’re a really physical and fun reminder that despite writing being a solitary craft, I am not alone and the writing community is wonderful. They’re like a physical space full of affirmations that I’m doing the right thing with my life. I’ve never been to a writers festival outside Australia before which makes me super excited to attend UWRF specifically. I can’t wait to meet writers and thinkers who I wouldn’t otherwise come into contact with. It’s going to be awesome.

What are you hoping to get out of the exchange?
Honestly, I want to meet writers from different backgrounds and approaches who might teach me how to be a better writer. Sometimes I worry that I’m only hanging out with people who already like me and reading people whose style is similar to mine, and that I may accidentally have created a kind of circlejerk microcosm. I’m hoping to meet all kinds of different people who challenging my thinking and have different perspectives on writing and women and the world.

I’m also trying to think of a way to connect my time in Ubud with some kind of mini-project for Hot Chicks with Big Brains. It could be amazing I just need to figure out what it is.

You are the inaugural recipient of the Kat Muscat Fellowship – can you tell us a bit about what that means to you and what you’ll be working on?
What it means is that I now have a support network and some mentoring infrastructure to properly focus on my first full-length manuscript. It has allowed me to build publisher interest in my work and sign with a literary agent. It also means a lot of responsibility. The Fellowship was for a female-identifying writer who responded to the theme of “challenge” and there are a buttload of other writers who could have also done great things with this opportunity. I am conscious that I need to do the memory of Kat Muscat justice and it’s simultaneously a source of stress and immense motivation.

I’m working on a narrative non-fiction manuscript about women and the law. It’s about my experience with the justice system and the sexism I saw every day working within it. It’s proving a difficult and emotional book to write, but I wish I had read something like this about five years ago (when I was starting out in law and becoming a woman) so I try to remember that.

Tell us about your interview series Hot Chicks with Big Brains?
It’s my baby and it’s growing into a beautiful thing! Seriously though, we launched our first hard-copy magazine in March to a crowd of 300 people and the issue is almost sold out. We’re starting a feminist and queer podcast to go along with a bimonthly movie night at Palace Cinemas, and I’m having some exciting thoughts about a focus for Issue #2. I am proud of the way HCwBB is growing and that we’re building Brisbane’s cultural infrastructure with our events in 2016. I’m rebuilding the website and our t-shirts and tote bags keep selling and we’re doing more video content too. I have ambitious, exciting plans for the project and ideally one day it’ll be a be a huge, low-brow, inclusive, feminist media empire. 😀

Where do you feel you are at in your writing career? Where do you want to go?
Without a doubt I’m at the very beginning. Both in a real sense (that I’ve only been writing full-time since February) but also in that I’m still discovering my voice, my daily writing practice, and who the hell I am when I’m not constantly doing things for the approval of other people.

I’ve almost finished the book proposal for my manuscript and I have a wonderful agent so I’m hoping to solidify publisher interest and link up with an editor pretty soon. I’ve decided that whenever that happens I’m going to start vlogging again (kind of like the video diaries I did for Writers Bloc). I like the idea of using the internet to connect with other emerging writers and if I do manage to get a book deal I’d like to share how that process occurred because I think often there’s a lot of unnecessary mystery surrounding the publishing industry.

Where do I want to go? I want to go to Ubud! Heck yeah!

Do you have advice for other emerging writers?
Send me an email and add me on Facebook I want to know who you are and for us all to be friends.

Seriously though, I feel a bit big-headed offering “advice”. All I know is the main thing that’s worked for me: taking the tough work ethic I saw in the legal industry and apply it to my writing. I am not gifted and I do not have a great voice (yet?) so I just work for hours and hours until the work is good enough. So far it seems to me that the successful people aren’t necessarily “special” or “gifted” but rather that they just punch the damn clock. I don’t know how to write good the first time, so I just do it ten times and it ends up alright. I would have to paint or draw something a hundred times before it looked any good, so I try not to get disheartened when my writing isn’t top shit at first try. Love the craft! Do it again and again! You’re amazing if you make your mind up to be. 🙂

Bri Lee is a Brisbane-based emerging writer and the Founding Editor of the feminist interview series Hot Chicks with Big Brains. As the inaugural recipient of the Kat Muscat Fellowship, Bri is currently working on a narrative nonfiction manuscript.

Golden Tickets to the Emerging Writers’ Festival are available now. Golden Tickets are your passport to the Emerging Writers’ Festival. They will give you access to the National Writers’ Conference, plus the rest of the festival including all panels, talks, performances and selected workshops.

The 2016 Emerging Writers’ Festival program launches on Tuesday, 10 May at The Wheeler Centre.

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