The National Young Writers’ Festival is a fantastically free, annual event that brings together young creatives from across Australia to talk about life, drinking and occasionally writing. If you have any time at all over the long weekend and are interested in writing, writers, looking at pretty writers, creativity or publishing, it’s the bomb-diggity. Over the next week Vertigo will be showcasing some of the lovely lads and ladies who’ll be at NYWF. Here’s Alexandra Neill, NYWF co-director, blogger and freelance writer on pretending to know what you’re doing and literary dating. 

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I’m one of the co-directors of this year’s festival. Along with Jess Alice and Lex Hirst, I’ve been responsible for planning all of the stuff happening at this year’s festival. I also do a heap of other things including freelance writing, blogging and playing Dungeons and Dragons.


What was the hardest thing about starting out as a writer?

I think the hardest thing was working out exactly what writing is. I used to think that it meant writing novels and I was very conflicted about that because I have zero desire to write a heap of novels. It took me a long time to work out that writing can be pretty much anything. Doing the co-director job isn’t technically writing but it’s still a job that’s rooted in the community. Writing can be a lot of things.


What sort of wisdom can you impart to young writers?

Come to NYWF! This festival is one of the very best ways to get your foot in the door (and I’m not just saying that because it’s my job). In the years that I’ve been coming, I’ve met so many people – being a part of the community makes everything a lot less intimidating. NYWF is the best community there is.


What’s kept you going throughout the putting the festival together?

I asked this question of the rest of team NYWF and we all looked at each other blankly. Really I have no idea how we’ve managed to make all this all happen. There’s also so many events in the program that I’m so excited to see happen. That keeps you going.


What do you think makes for good comedy in writing?

Comedy writing (much like festival directing) is something I actually have no idea how to do – I just do it. I think the key (to both things) is trusting yourself. My philosophy has always been to pretend you know what you’re doing until you do.


Which NYWF events are you especially keen to check out this year?

I’m just going to let this speak for itself.

Fondest memory of NYWF?

This one time I was involved in a live literary dating game show. Luke Ryan and I went on an atrociously awkward date which involved eating a hunk of cheese while sitting on a bedspread on the Newcastle foreshore. Lawrence Leung gave me dating advice while he was sitting in a tree. It was all very surreal.


What’s your favourite failed project and why?

At uni I wrote a radio play called “Jesus and John” about the second coming of Jesus. One of the main scenes revolved around someone getting a safety pin in their eye and Jesus pulling it out (MIRACLE!). It was packed with the lolz.


Which #rejectedNYWF panel did you most want to see happen?

So many! I think my favourite #rejectedNYWF tweet was “Bees Everywhere: In Your Eyes, In Your Nostrils, Everywhere Bees” (credit @mckinnon_a). Unfortunately that would be a little awkward IRL (we don’t have the budget for that many bees).

National Young Writers’ Festival runs from October 2 – 5 in Newcastle.

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