Last week, Melbourne became a UNESCO International City of Literature.
It's been a long time coming - Melbourne has always been a very literary place. I'm writing this post in a pretty literary building - the State Library of Victoria. Marcus Clarke used to work here, as well as a host of other awesomely literary luminaries. The Library will also be home, next year, to the Centre for Books and Ideas, being the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Victorian Writers Centre, the National Poetry Centre, the Emerging Writers Festival and Express Media.
I love Melbourne. I love its cafes and bookshops and bars and libraries and laneways and did I mention bars? And I love the way, in the middle of winter, hoardes of Melburnians brave the cold and the rain and line up for hours to see some obscure German film at the Film Festival, or see a motley bunch of writers talk about themselves at the Writers Festival.
I love this. I love the way Melburnians get out there. I love the way we think about things and talk about ideas and sure, a lot of us are total wankers, but I kind of love that too (from a distance).
I've been involved in the Writers Festival for the past three years, but this is the first time I've really felt like I belonged. It's like I've hit critical mass - last year I had one non-fiction book out, and a forthcoming novel - now I have two novels and anthology with my name on the cover. I can say I'm an author and not feel like I need to justify it. I know people, this time. YA people, publishing people, Express Media people, and many others.
It's my town. My City of Literature. And at the risk of sounding like a greeting card - it's yours too.