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 Patrick Lenton who’ll be defending dinosaurs, talking about silliness, program highlights and fond memories of NYWF.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
In my day job, I’m a Digital Marketer for Momentum books. In my every other moment that I can possibly find a job, I’m a writer of short stories, theatre and other miscellanea. I have a blog called The Spontaneity Review and you can find my writing in journals like The Lifted Brow, Best Australian Stories, Seizure, Scum Mag, etc. I write regularly for Junkee, and have a column called The Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge with Going Down Swinging. My book, A Man Made Entirely of Bats, is coming out in March 2015, it’s a collection of absurd and strange flash and microfiction that is sometimes about superheroes.
What was the hardest thing about starting out as a writer?
Starting was easy – when I started I had no real idea what I was signing up for. I wasn’t being cool and rebellious and spitting in the face of all the people who warned me about how hard and unrewarding it is to be a writer, about how difficult it is to find a job or a source of income – I just didn’t think about it. I just wandered around with my head in the clouds. It was only after I finished my creative writing degree at UOW that the penny finally dropped and I discovered that I’d chosen a difficult path to take.
What sort of wisdom can you impart to young writers?
Get involved with things. There are a million opportunities out there, and the majority of people who are running things are fuelled by little more than passion and coffee and big dreams, and can always use more help, and once people know who you are, you’re more likely to know about the great opportunities, or have your writing recommended by someone.
What do you think makes for good comedy in writing?
Silliness. There are precious few laugh-out-loud novels, which I think is incredibly strange. I like writing that makes the jump to being silly, and writers that don’t take themselves super seriously, while still being serious in the intent of creating a polished piece of writing. I like writing that might feature a weird horse because why not?
Which panels are you speaking at and why should people come to them?
I am involved in three events so far this year, which are: ‘My Favourite is Problematic’, which is an event I’m frankly honoured to be included in, as it features some of my favourite writers in the world, like Clementine Ford, Rebecca Shaw and Michelle Law. I’ll be talking about my obsession with the TV show Friends. I’m also on a debate called ‘Is Jurassic Park a Thing That Should Happen?’ which honestly sells itself, I’m on the affirmative team, obviously. And I’m also chairing a panel called ‘Why Romance is Here to Stay’ which is where I’m putting on my day job hat, and talking to some authors and academics about the long-running and incredibly impressive romance writing genre.
Which NYWF events are you especially keen to check out this year?
I’m looking forward to ‘Spilling Your Guts’ because I’ve been working on a memoir-based project lately, and this panel has some of my favourite memoir style writers on it, so I feel like I will learn, and learning is a goal unto itself. Also, ‘Mustard Chef’, because I love sandwiches.
Fondest memory of NYWF?
I got asked to join a panel about ‘Writers and Drinking’ 15 minutes before it started, and me and my fellow panelists were so incomparably hungover that the entire thing was mostly grunting and weeping into our hands. Also, once me and my theatre company camped and it rained and our intern floated out of her tent on a blowup mattress.
What’s your favourite failed project and why?
It’s not so much failed as perpetually in the wings, but I’ve been working on a web series/ radio play/ podcast/ back to web series that’s called ‘Inspector Crumblap’ which is kind of like a mix between an incredibly drunk Miss Marple and The Bold and the Beautiful. I think it’s too beautiful to ever really exist.
Which #rejectedNYFW panel did you most want to see happen?
Oh man, so many. I really loved Kaitlyn Plyley’s ‘Careers That Are More Lucrative Than Writing: These engineering panellists literally burn money in front of you.’
Will you be sharing more drunken bathroom stories this year?
I’m not booked in for any readings this year, but I will definitely be pushing my way into open mic’s and reading from my horrible ledger of drunken bathroom stories.
There’s plenty of Patrick Lenton to go around. Catch him this Saturday, September 27, on the steps across from The Clock, as part of Surry Hills Festival. He’ll be doing readings about ‘Literary Love‘ with some excellent people (read: Vertigo editors Lily Mei [current], Hannah Story  and Justin Wolfers ). Patrick will be at National Young Writers’ Festival in Newcastle from October 2 – 5, and reading at Haymarket Library on Wednesday, October 15, as part of Flashers. All three events are free!