Q&A with Robbie Arnott

Robbie Arnott, writer and TWC Board member recently attended the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne. Here he discusses his experience with the Tasmanian Writers Centre.

What was your role at the EWF?

I was on two panels – one about copywriting (my day job is in an advertising agency as a copywriter), and one about writing outside of major population centres.


How did the EWF play out? What was the general order of proceedings?

There was so much going in at EWF I’m not sure I can answer this very well. There were events at the Wheeler Centre, in the State Library, out at Dandenong, and lots of other locations. It was all pretty slick and well organised – probably due to the skillful staff and passionate volunteers who were constantly whirring around.


Was the mood an inspiring one?

Definitely, as well as supportive and just plain fun. Lots of writers all hanging out, trading tips and meeting new people. I had a blast.


Who were some of the other writers you spoke with?

I spoke with a ton of interesting and inspiring people. I was on a panel with the inimitable Penny Modra, who runs The Good Copy in Melbourne, and on another with Mark Brandi (the author of Wimmera), Yen-Rong Wong (the editor of Pencilled In), and Libby Angel (author of The Trapeze Act). I also got to hang out with a bunch of other great writers like Elizabeth Flux, Patrick Lenton, Alan Vaarwerk and Laura Elizabeth Woollett.


Did you glean some good advice for other ways in which the Writer’s Centre can support young people? Anything you didn’t already know?

One of the most obvious things was the level of passion that EWF brings to all of its events. It’s important to be professional, diligent and supportive, but that element of passion is equally important. If the Writers’ Centre can bring more of this to our youth programming, we’ll reach a lot more young writers.


Were there any programs or ideas you heard about at the festival that could be incorporated into the Twitch program?

Lots of events at EWF weren’t structured around traditional writing (e.g. fiction and non-fiction). Twitch could and should incorporate things like songwriting and oral storytelling into its program.


Did you participate in any workshops?

No, unfortunately. I was only in Melbourne for two days, and had panels on both of them.


What were the most valuable aspects of attending the EWF?

Meeting other writers in the same position and stage of their career as I am. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone, and that I’m not wasting my time trying to make this writing thing work.


Were there any aspects of the festival that you think could have been done differently?

Oh geez, I don’t know. Maybe more people from outside Melbourne? I met a few writers from Brisbane, and a few who had moved from Perth to Victoria, but it would have been nice to see a few other states and regional areas represented.


In your experience as a writer, what have been the most helpful things in establishing your career? What made you feel supported as a young writer?

 Publishing opportunities and writing communities. Having things published gave me the confidence to keep writing, and forming or joining communities of other writers gave me the feedback and support to make my writing better.