GarnerRama Part II and some updates!
The giveaway is a Helen Garner fiction gift pack
Hello from Brisbane! It’s remarkable how often I’ve written a newsletter from a hotel room. I love it. It feels romantic, like I’m penning a dispatch on the road. Which reminds me—next week tickets will go on sale for the huge February 2024 Aweventurer trip! You can register your interest here to get access to the bookings portal as soon as it’s live. We have already sold 50% of the spaces because the people who came to Morocco and Türkiye get first dibs. I reckon that’s a hugely good endorsement. Türkiye sold out in less than a fortnight too, so once the portal opens you cannot afford to hesitate if it’s something you’re serious about. Here are some sneaky teasers I’ll give you because I love my newsletter readers:
There will be a hot air balloon ride at sunrise
There will be a 4hr cooking lesson
There will be home-cooked meals for us on three nights—these have always been a huge highlight and a great way to make sure our tourist dollars are going straight to locals rather than giant companies
We’re going to have two required readings this time—one fiction and one non-fiction title—to cover both this nation’s ancient and modern history, which you’ll soon understand is fascinating and significant
We’re doing a murder mystery party (I KNOW; TOO GOOD!!)
Anyways, I have to stop typing about that or I’ll give it all away.
I’m back here in the land of the Brown Snake for some speeches and events and then to see my family before I scoot back to Sydney on Friday afternoon to be ready for the big weekend of workshops. Speaking of which…
Ace Hotel Sydney asked me to run an event as part of their new ‘Slow Series’, so I decided to adapt one of the workshops I gave on the Morocco Aweventurer trip in 2020. I call it ‘Diarising and Note-Taking’ and it’s about how memory works, how to practice noticing things, and how to shrug off limiting ideas of what a diary ‘should’ be so that you can keep your own diary in whatever format flows easiest. It’s a hugely beneficial practice not only for writers but for all kinds of creatives. The tickets were $40 and it sold out in less than 24 hours.
So! I’ve decided to run a version of it online as a livestream. Put 7:30pm on Wednesday 26 July in your diaries. The regular newsletter will go out at 5pm and we’ll meet online later. Livestreams about books, reading, and writing will be happening every month starting in July for paying subscribers. If you can’t make that time, I’ll find a way to put the recording online for a month or so. Again, only for paying subscribers.
Subscribe before EOFY!
Alrighty, let’s get down to biznuss. Here’s what’s in GarnerRama Part II: This time it’s fiction. (Haha.) I’ve written ‘How to do so much with so few words; The Children’s Bach is a writing masterclass from Garner’. I suppose because I’m in a bit of a teaching mindset at the moment, and am voraciously reading fiction for lessons I can take and use for my own fiction. I cannot believe The Children’s Bach isn’t more talked-about and taught.has written ‘Helen Garner’s uncomfortable spare room’ about The Spare Room (duh) and it’s my favourite thing she has ever written for News & Reviews. A big call, I know, but Astrid lays out her personal history as both carer and cared-for, and makes a compelling argument that The Spare Room fails as both a novel and a documentation of the dichotomy.
The reader question I’ve answered this month is:
What do you think the 12 year old girls of today need to know most about the next 10 years (re: becoming a woman in today's society, social media, or anything else you think)?
Where do you start with something this big? I don’t think I have any ‘regrets’, but there are things I could have handled better and lessons I wish I hadn’t had to learn the hard way. On the ship in Antarctica I met all these 50+, 60+, 70+ year old people and so many of them were great but also a lot of them were screaming on the inside. They hadn’t made peace with who they were, and when they were removed from all contact with the outside world and placed in an astonishingly alien environment, some of them unravelled. When I looked around at those people I saw that fortitude didn’t correlate to money or prestige.
I started writing an essay-ish answer to this twice and both times it came out like a part-preachy, part-overly-earnest graduation address. Yuck! So I had a bit of fun with it and came up with ‘18 Things I’d Tell An 18 Year Old Woman’. Some funny, some serious. Life advice in a list; take it or leave it! I’m your new feminist Jordan Peterson!
‘How to do so much with so few words; The Children’s Bach is a writing masterclass from Garner’ by Bri Lee
Within about five pages I knew what I was reading was really good, and when I finished it the next day I closed it and had one of those rare fuck moments when someone in your field has performed to such a high standard that you’re simultaneously killed and rejuvenated.