Everything in Moderation - AFCC Sessions Part 6

A memorable part of being involved in this year's Asian Festival of Children's Content was being asked to moderate a number of sessions for other presenters in addition to presenting my own.

This was an opportunity I whole heartily embraced for it suggested a much more involved, hands on chance to become more intimately acquainted not only with some erstwhile unknown movers and shakers in the Kids' Lit stratosphere but also the topics they chose to discuss. I discovered, this in turn enhanced my own presentation for I was able to draw comparisons and find connections for delegates attending my session, thus providing a lovely continuity of content discussion.

Whilst session moderating here in Oz suggests enthusiastic time keeping, in Singapore it took on a deeper responsibility involving pre-conference hook ups with the session presenters, research of their topic (and books), compilation of topics for Q & A, on site note swapping and general session support. At one stage I was even involved in an ad hoc performance as part of the presentation. Lots of fun, intense interactive involvement and, perhaps most significant of all, a chance to forge genuine relationships with even more like-minded people made moderating a truly enjoyable experience.

Here is the first session I stumbled my way through. I say stumbled because it takes a moment or three to adjust speaking to a room of 120 odd eager delegates madly trying to tune into your Aussie accented pronunciation of some challenging Asian names, but once I did, there was no stopping me.

Jane Vejjajiva and Dimity Powell
Jane's first novel, The Happiness of Kati
Improvising Your Way Out of Writers' Block with Jane Vejjajiva, moderated by moi

Jane is a Thai award-winning author and MD of her own Publishers' Agency, Silkroad. She has translated many notable literary works for the likes of J. K. Rowling and Kate DiCamillo. She is also the sister of the former Thai Prime Minister,Abhisit Vejjajiva and perhaps one of the loveliest warm souls I have ever met.

Her presentation focused on that old chestnut - writers' block and how to use spontaneity and improvisation to overcome it. She compared the Plan, Plot, Map method of writing (the Plotter) vs. Asking Questions and writing instinctively and at random (the Panster) with a gentle suggestion that to over come true blockage the latter might be more beneficial.

Here is her (anti-) Writers' Block Checklist:
  1. Let the characters and situations lead
  2. Be random and spontaneous
  3. Take a break (chocolate or holiday, your choice)
  4. Read = Reading is the Creative Centre of a writer's life
  5. Forget deadlines
  6. Believe in yourself
  7. Buy time e.g. with dialogue = take time to learn about your characters
  8. Go back to the your original source of inspiration and delve deeper into it
  9. Revive themes
  10. Keep it real
  11. Be honest - stick to your style - don't try to copy
  12. Polish that style and or dig hard for it
  13. Keep a bit in reserve, ie. don't kill yourself trying to finish a scene...leave yourself hanging so you are eager to return to it the next day 
  14. Ask What if? ... often
  15. Don't Panic It will pass
  16. Improvisation can be divine and fun - head off the beaten track for yourself and your characters, you never know what you might discover
Interestingly, how to over come sticky spots in plot, what do do at road blocks and how to end a great story are all questions I am often asked by kids in writing workshops, let alone adults, so Jane's calm and considered suggestions provided great solace and some interesting topics for further exploration.

Come back soon for more highlights on the next couple of sessions I was lucky enough to moderate.


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