Published 4 August 20111 June 2012 · Main Posts / Reading Me and the Melbourne Writers Festival Clare Strahan Well, look out; I’m one of five UNblogger competitors selected for this year’s Melbourne Writers Festival. My pass is in the mail and I’m excited. A minimum of ten events are on my obligation horizon (oh, what a hard life it is) and from them I’m to wrestle at least eight blogs, so watch this space! This year’s festival is all about … Stories Unbound Ye gads, the title makes me think of ebooks. But maybe that’s just because I’m involved with the possible creation of one; a collection of short stories for an otherwise papery literary journal; and I’ve already been confronted by the question that perhaps the ‘good’ ones are ‘too good for an ebook’ and wondered if I should go ferreting around for an Arts grant to make a ‘proper’ paper publication possible. An idea that doesn’t stray too far from my heart’s desires. How to tell a good writer I want to include their work in a compilation that will probably sell for $5 or less (that’s fewer to all you grammarians out there)? Is that a bad thing, or a great thing? The writers will be paid as much for their e-version as they would the print version … but they will literally be ‘stories unbound’ – there’ll be no binding, no papery love, no texture. But the stories have to get out there and isn’t e-publishing a great way to go because it isn’t such an economic investment and don’t they say that short stories never sell? Unless you’re Margo Lanagan, or Nam Le, or Lydia Davis or Junot Diaz, or Flannery O’Connor, or … but you know what I mean. And stories are important. Aren’t they? Yes! Stories are a primal impulse of the human psyche. Stories are how we make sense of our world, of each other, of ‘fear and dream and death and birth, [that] cast upon the daylight of this earth, such gloom …’ They’re ‘why man [sic] hath such a scope for love and hate, despondency and hope’. Unlike the romantics, we’re not as clear about such things in 2011. Even ‘story expert’ Robert McKee seems a little confused about where stories come from and what they’re for. On the one hand he says stories aren’t buried like treasure ‘in the ground of life’, wanting to be told and just waiting to swarm from their graves, but that they’re in the writer and sparked to genius by the inspiration of unearthing the treasure buried in the ground of life … erm, see how tricky it is? And here we are, in Melbourne, ‘city of literature’, flocking to writers’ festivals, and it’s not because we want more celebrities (the music and film industries have that sewn up), but because we want to know and hear those who have the talent and courage to go searching for that buried treasure (and don’t forget the graves); because we want genius to visit; we want stories unbound. And because we understand their delicious value; even at $5 or … fewer. Cross-posted from 9fragments. Clare Strahan Clare Strahan is a two-time novelist with Allen & Unwin publishers, long-ago contributing editor to Overland, and teaches in the RMIT Professional Writing & Editing Associate Degree. More by Clare Strahan › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 8 September 202315 September 2023 · Main Posts Announcing the 2023 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize ($6500) Editorial Team Supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, and named after the late Neilma Gantner, this prize seeks excellent short fiction of up to 3000 words themed around the notion of ‘travel’; imaginative, creative and literary interpretations are strongly encouraged. This competition is open to all writers, nationally and internationally, at any stage of their writing career. First published in Overland Issue 228 8 September 202326 September 2023 · Main Posts Announcing the 2023 Judith Wright Poetry Prize ($9000) Editorial Team Established in 2007 and supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets seeks poetry by writers who have published no more than one collection of poems under their own name (that is writers who’ve had zero collections published, or one solo collection published). It remains one of the richest prizes for emerging poets, and is open to poets anywhere in the world. In 2023, the major prize is $6000, with a second prize of $2000 and a third prize of $1000. All three winners will be published in Overland.