Friday, May 30, 2008

Why arts funding matters

A letter of mine has been published in today's Courier-Mail, responding to a piece by Chuck Brooks earlier this week.

Unfortunately Brooks' letter isn't online, so I can't link to it, but the general gist was that arts funding in general (and the One Book Many Brisbanes competition in particular) is a waste of money.

Here's my response, for those who can't get their hands on a copy of the newspaper:

I'm sure there are many people who would agree with Chuck Brooks' musings on arts grants. Just as there are many people who don't agree with taxpayers' money being spent on deploying troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, health funds being spent looking after chronic smokers, or public monies spent propping up unsustainable industries.

But just like defence, health and big business, the arts is a valid and vital part of our society.

Mr Brooks says most people have never heard of the winners. So rather than judging the stories based on merit, he would have preferred them judged on profile? Why not just commission stories from Nick Earls, Rebecca Sparrow, David Malouf et al?

Because the whole point of One Book Many Brisbanes is to encourage all Brisbanites (in fact, the competition was open to all Queensland residents) to reflect on the place they call home.

It was open to everyone, including the cash-strapped waitresses, taxicab drivers, brickies and labourers Mr Brooks mentions.

The total prize pool of $60,000 works out to just over 3c per Brisbane resident. The total cost to ratepayers: 12c each? Let's be generous and call it 50c each.

As for public arts funding as a whole, a 2005 report (by the Canada Council) puts Australia well down the list of comparable countries, on just 0.14 per cent of GDP.

Hardly a case of enslaving and plundering the Australian people.

If you have ever enjoyed an Australian movie, book, play or CD, thank public funding, because I'm sure if you dig down far enough, at some point in their careers those writers, musicians, directors and playwrights have needed a helping hand.

As for living on the public teat, I can say from a personal perspective that nothing could be further from the truth.

I've been writing seriously for 10 years - for love, not for the money. Most of my stories have been published by small press magazines (run by people who also do it for the love), paying generally $25-$50 a pop.

I write because I enjoy it, not for prize cheques. But I applaud Brisbane City Council for celebrating the craft of writing, and the contribution writers make to society, through One Book Many Brisbanes.

When the anthology is released next month, I invite all Brisbanites to read it (it will be available for Brisbane City Council libraries) and decide for themselves whether it is worth their 3 cents.

Gary Kemble
(One Book Many Brisbanes winner)

Wordpool reading

A big thank-you to everyone who braved the wind and the cold last night for the Wordpool reading at Avid Reader.

It was a great night. We had a full house so hopefully the organisers are happy with how it went.

Ben Law was hilarious. I also really enjoyed the reading by Anthony Lawrence - nothing beats poetry read out by the author.

Baron Field finished off the night with some lovely songs.

For those who couldn't make it, or those who made it but want to hear the ending, you can check out "Untethered" when it is published next month.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ian Fleming's writing regime

At the launch of the new James Bond novel Devil May Care, Sebastian Faulks says:

"In his house in Jamaica, Ian Fleming used to write a thousand words in the morning, then go snorkelling, have a cocktail, lunch on the terrace, more diving, another thousand words in late afternoon, then more Martinis and glamorous women.

"In my house in London, I followed this routine exactly, apart from the cocktails, the lunch and the snorkelling."

Never mind the cocktails and glamorous women - I'm just envious of anyone who can get through 2,000 words a day.

(Via Articulate - click to see the Bond girl!)

Monday, May 26, 2008

The agony of the 'rewrite'

I've just realised that I'm going to have to trash about three-quarters of my sf ms Drift.

Of what I'd written, only about 25k is serviceable, due to my decision to rip out two major sub-plots.

I know that by simplifying the plot Drift will be a stronger book.

But still -- you think you're almost there, and then you realise that a lot of that work was for naught.

Oh well. The good news is that I get to make a whole heap of new stuff up, and this time with one eye on structure and the finished product!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sneak peek of 'Untethered'

I'm going to read part of my One Book Many Brisbanes story 'Untethered' at Wordpool on Thursday, May 29, at Avid Reader, West End, Brisbane.

It would be great to see some Kemblog-sters there.

The event kicks off at 6.30pm, and you can get tickets ($10 - wine included) at Avid Reader.

Hope to see you there!

(For those who can't make it, the One Book Many Brisbanes anthology is out next month - check here for details)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tim Winton: story is the key

One of my colleagues at ABC News Online interviewed Tim Winton yesterday, talking to him about his latest novel Breath and writing in general.

You can read the feature here. I blogged it at Articulate, but I thought it was worth distilling the quote even further here:
"The magic of story overcomes most geographical or political or even age or
gender differences between people."

I know that that resonates with the sf project I'm working on at the moment (was agonising over the setting and nationality of the characters) and I'm sure it resonates with most other writers as well.