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The Oprah Suicide Pact

The speech last night went well enough, I think.

There was a bit of traffic on the way there, including an accident on Anzac Parade, so I arrived with everyone hanging round waiting for me. Well dressed people, in fact. Ryan Twomey, the organiser of the whole thing, made sure I didn't feel on my own or isolated. He even told me that the first choice as speaker had been Bryan Brown, and that I was after him, which goes to show that when it comes to artists living in Sydney there's a drop off after Bryan Brown, but still, can't argue with some place that gives me some free food and new people to talk too. Like I said, the speech went well enough--I think I got lost in the last minute or so of it, but I'd made enough jokes, including one about an Oprah suicide pact, that I probably got away with it.

In case you're wondering, I talked about ending up in a German test paper, and how the enforced reading of my work in High School was something that I was beginning to support. I spent some time talking about the publication of Black Sheep and how it didn't go too well, and how it sold pretty badly when compared to the idea of a three thousand print run. I know people love it when I discuss that--I'm destroying the illusion of success, they say--but if you've got to have a person speaking at a dinner, stories of failure are always more interesting than those of success. Well, you can always get a laugh out of it. But mostly, I was making a point that here was this book that had sound somewhere around a hundred and thirty copies, and that somehow, in some way, the first three pages of it ended up in a German High School exam, which is pretty fucking far odds, really. I mean, someone in a country where the book wasn't even published heard about it, went to the effort of tracking it down, read it, and then had the additional factor of being involved in the exams, and--and--then said, "You know what? Lets put it in an exam."

It's pretty fucking cool, really.

So I talked about that, because, really, one of the truly best things about being a writer, and getting your work published, is that you'll connect with someone, that you'll enter a communicative process with them. At least, that's what I think, anyhow. I would like to tell you that I was one of those writers who wrote just for the sake of writing, and don't get me wrong, I like that, but I also write because I adore that connection your work gets when it's read, and someone just links up with it, when you become part of a global conversation based on your themes, moments, ides, and just basic writing. It is, I think, one of the best feelings, and I wanted to impart that, which is the bit I think that I got messed up towards the end, too busy making jokes and trying to get laughs out of the audience. Which isn't in itself a bad thing, I guess, and if you've ever heard me talk publicly, you'll know that I have a bad habit of getting caught on little tangents like that.

At any rate, it was an alright time, and the people I talked to were cool; I just wish I'd shown up a bit earlier to meet more folk, but that's like, I guess.

(crossposted)

Comments

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ironed_orchid
May. 15th, 2009 05:31 am (UTC)
I occasionally wonder if people look for reasonably obscure works in exams so that the students have to take the passage on its own, rather than in the context of the novel. I know that when I did year 11 and 12 lit exams, I had sometimes read the books they excerpted from, but that was because my mother worked in a bookshop and thus I had access to new releases that not all students would have read.

But having just read Black Sheep, I suspect it is far more likely they picked it for the subject matter. Which is exactly the sort of thing they like to use in lit and english classes to make people things about Issues.
benpeek
May. 15th, 2009 06:10 am (UTC)
oh, yeah, i'm sure it was the issues thing, honestly. from what i understood it fit nicely with the topic they were studying.

cool on the book, too.
ironed_orchid
May. 15th, 2009 06:34 am (UTC)
I liked book, btw. Will mention it in my lj when I have thought about it some more.
benpeek
May. 15th, 2009 06:45 am (UTC)
coolies :)
(Anonymous)
May. 24th, 2009 08:05 pm (UTC)
:)

zohreh
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