I am at the Sydney Writers Festival and it has made me think. I know these writers now. Not all of them, but enough. Most of them I know to have a drink with. Some are people with whom I can share secrets.
When I first worked in a bookshop almost 20 years ago I used to come in every morning and touch the spines of the books I loved. Old friends. Those books made me feel at home in a new job. I had my touchstones, my beloved novels that I could pull out and hand to people and recommend. Now the experience has changed for me. I go into the bookshop and I search for the books written by the writers I know and love. I press my fingers to the spine of Ashley Hay and Kris Olsson and Favel Parrett and Chris Somerville, Anna Krien, Benjamin Law, Trent Jamieson, Anita Heiss. People who I love in the flesh. Writer friends who sustain me.
I look around the crowded cafe at SWF and there are faces that smile at me. I know you. I am you. We share the same performance anxiety, the same troubles on the page. The same hopes and fears. I have come a long way since the days when books were just the words on the page, disconnected from the writers and created by someone a long way away from me. I am here with these writers now. I am one of a wonderful motley tribe. I am truly happy to be here.