OK, I am cheating. The conference is already over – but I was having such fun, I didn’t have time to post. I thought I should break it down for you anyway.
I arrived in Vienna late Monday afternoon and took myself off to an Australia/Austrian to a pre-conference reading. Got lost and got there late. But in time to hear two Aussies – Cate Kennedy and Andy Kissane read two great stories. And several Austrian writers who spoke in German, which I don’t understand, but it didn’t matter so much, they sounded beautiful, especially Friederike Mayröcker, whose voice was just mesmerising – and later when I read the English translations, it was fabulous.
I snuck out afterwards, a bit tired (still jet lagged) and not quite ready for the socialising part, so headed home to bed.
I used Airbnb to rent a fantastic apartment on the other side of Augarten, so I used the city bike system to get around. I highly recommend it if you are ever in Vienna.
Tuesday consisted of workshops with short story writers. I chose the one with Canadian writer Clark Blaise. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was quickly clear that he had been considering this form for probably more than my lifetime, and it was a treat to listen to him wax lyrical for three hours on the short story. There was also input from the class and number of fine examples to read.
I left my afternoon free for a wander around the city.
I knew no-one going into this conference. But in the first panel session, on the first day, Wednesday, I sat next to a lovely Canadian writer who happened to be presenting in the same panel I was later in the week, and she put me at ease immediately (Hi Louise).
The first panel on Alice Munro was useful as I will be looking at one of her stories in my thesis, and it gave me plenty to think about.
The next panel was New Ways of Disseminating the Short Story, and I am embarrassed to say that I had to come all the way to Vienna to hear about the fantastic work being done in Australia by Spineless Wonders and Raging Aardvark Publishing. Spineless Wonders, in particular are publishing the short-short fiction I love so much, that there just doesn’t seem to be many other platforms for.
Next was lunch, where I started some tentative, slightly awkward socialising. Luckily, at these things there are so many in the same boat, it makes it a little easier to just go up and say hi.
Then it was time for dinner. I had been invited to the Australian Ambassador’s residence for ‘a reception’. (This is the type of thing that happens when you go to a well organised international conference, apparently) There were many more Australians at the conference than I realised, and I met most of them here – a fantastic bunch. As well as other Aussie working in the city – opera singers and musicians. Several hours of chatting ensued (always easier with a glass of red) followed by a bike ride back to the flat and total collapsification.
More to follow……