If the act of reading is necessarily a quiet, solitary activity the opposite can be true of when we share or discuss what we read. This dynamic communality is what draws me every year to the Sydney Writer’s Festival.
Some of the best conversations I have ever had about writing, the perception of writing, even the act of writing have been in queues on cool May afternoons as I wait gratefully to attend an SWF event. Strangers with whom I might disagree, agree, agree to disagree or simply be excited with.
And it appears that I am not the only one who acknowledges the pleasure of choosing from over 300 events each year. Today I did my first shift as an SWF volunteer. One of the hundreds of people who put up their hands to make this iconic Sydney event run smoothly for the solitary love of reading and the vibrant sharing of what we read.
Ticket stuffing was on the agenda as I joined a lovely bunch of people in the simple act of putting your tickets in an envelope and sending them on their way to you. Chocolate was supplied! Nothing fancy, nothing difficult. Just a small way to take the pressure off staff as the event comes closer.
In the next few weeks I will, apparently, be stuffing volunteer bags, doing vague stuff with signage and lanyards and preparing speaker and presenter packs. As a newbie, they have paired me with some old hands during the weeklong festival when I will be greeting and setting up microphones and escorting authors to their venues. And what I am sure will be my favourite, helping out in the queues.
I’ll keep you updated about my volunteer experience! Be kind though if you come across an impertinently eavesdropping queue attendant, it might be me.
The Sydney Writers Festival takes place between the 22nd and 28th May 2017