I spent today at All About Women, part of Sydney Opera House’s Ideas at the House program. I couldn’t think of a more fitting way to celebrate International Women’s Day 2015 than to mingle with others interested in women’s issues, women’s thoughts, and women’s words. The weather was beautiful, the crowd was buzzing, and the loudspeakers were swelling with the voices of creative, intelligent, passionate, opinionated, dedicated and driven women from all around the globe. It was wonderfully stimulating and inspiring!
I had the great pleasure of hearing Esther Freud read from her new book, Mr. Mac and Me, at her talk on Stories of Childhood. She discussed how some of her earlier experiences and relationships have informed her work, and I was lucky enough to get to ask a question during the Q&A session at the end. I was curious as to why Esther chose the form of novels rather than non-fiction given the fine line between the world of make-believe and reality in much of her work; the short version of her answer is she likes the feel and the freedom of storytelling, the space to re-invent things where necessary, and the opportunity to leave things out, which is not always possible within the constraints of, say, a memoir. I had a quick chat with her after the talk and fingers crossed, we’ll get to hear more from her directly on WordMothers soon!
Another highlight for me today was hearing Elizabeth Gilbert speak on How to Be Creative. She won me over right from the start by discussing the work of American poet Jack Gilbert (no relation), whose “Failing and Flying” I adore. Elizabeth went on to give an incredibly well-polished presentation, the upshot of which was that women need to learn how to invite Fear to come with them “on the road trip” towards creativity, but not give it the power to make any decisions. She believes it is equally imperative that women learn to let go of their perfectionism because “Done!” is the most important goal — that is, to just complete the project and put it out there to be seen and heard, whether it hits 100% or not.
And on that note, my literary brain needs a break so I’m going to hit Publish now and hope I can stay awake for all of Downton Abbey!
Happy International Women’s Day to all of you!