School Visits, Writing and Illustrating Festivals & Networking

Writing is such a solitary occupation that I strongly believe authors and illustrators, of children’s books particularly, need to interact, at all stages of their careers (both beginning and established) to talk about where they are, where they are going. They need to discuss their stepping stones or road blocks and share how they are feeling with fellow creators about the book in press, the one which has been waiting in the wings, or the one in their handbag that isn’t behaving as it should.

Sometimes these things can be discussed in established writing groups and sometimes it happens at festivals during a brief coffee break between sessions, with a fellow writer or illustrator you haven’t had time to catch up with for a while . . . those moments are precious ones.

Best friends, who are non-creative types, don’t quite get why or how we can escape into our words or artwork and be taken somewhere else, totally oblivious sometimes to what is happening about us.

As creators there are moments of doubt, wherever you are, whatever stage you are at. Sometimes in the middle of a presentation, I feel a bit of a fake – yes there are days when writing children’s books is the best job in the world (and they are by far the majority), but there are other days where self-doubt creeps in, where you wonder if you have given the school group or festival audience the sort of information they need, followed up on what their teachers have been encouraging and stressing, or whether you have answered the question that the quiet student in the back row wanted to desperately know, but was too shy to ask. You worry about the little preppy who, although he was waving his hand about for a full 10 minutes under your nose, you didn’t get time to go back to.

No matter how well you plan or how organised you are for every eventuality, there are the presentations which flow beautifully and there are others you walk away from with an undercurrent of disquiet and it’s wonderful to ‘air’ that concern with someone who understands – and that for me is a fellow writer.

As we head towards the end of Children’s Book Week, Numeracy and Literacy Week, National Poetry Week and the plethora of wonderful and inspiring festivals, we can only hope that we have left some grains of inspiration behind us, scattered some of our love of words and books and life’s experiences amongst those who listened.

And I’m personally looking forward to lots of overdue catch-ups while sipping chai lattes or cappuccinos and to talk about words, books, kids and presentations and yes, to return to that thing called writing.

Ballarat Writers & Illustrators Festival - Picture Book Panel - Maryann Ballantyne, Corinne Fenton & Dave Hackett

← Back to all Blog posts


  1. Sue Hey Corinne, so glad you enjoyed yourself. Your presentations are always terrific. So well planned! Enjoy the slower pace - and the writing! Sue
    September 7, 2011 at 4:50 pm · Reply
    • Corinne Fenton
      corinne Hmmm. Planning. Sometimes it can be over-cooked though!
      September 9, 2011 at 8:01 am · Reply
  2. Kaye Baillie Hi Corinne. Always nice to read your blogs which must take time to put together. Your insight into things like self doubt or how well something is presented and received is great to read about. You provide a window into the writing world and that can only benefit anyone who reads it.
    September 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm · Reply
    • Corinne Fenton
      corinne Thanks Kaye. As I said in the email, you always make such lovely comments. Your blog is great.
      September 9, 2011 at 8:00 am · Reply
  3. Kayleen West - Children's Book IIlustrator The festival was great and you did a wonderful job at answering the questions. I came back inspired and chomping at the bit to use all I learnt. It was great connecting with the wonderful people there who shared the mutual buzz. I blogged about my weekend there too.
    September 8, 2011 at 10:54 am · Reply
    • Corinne Fenton
      corinne Thanks Kayleen. It was a great festival.
      September 9, 2011 at 7:59 am · Reply
  4. Bev As I write, my tired husband reads your book Flame Stands Still to our 5 year old. She says 'Dad you missed a page' her eys shining, loving the story, dreaming of meeting Flame. And of a special magic that lives in toys that are loved. I told her about how you wrote the story for your grandmother, about the carousel at Luna Park. I only wish I managed to get a note from you in her book at the Ballarat Writers Festival. It is Erin's most favourite book - she got it last year from Santa. 'Corrine must have given the book to Santa' she says. Thank you so much! Bev
    October 3, 2011 at 9:34 pm · Reply
    • Corinne Fenton
      corinne Oh Bev! Notes like yours make this whole crazy writing roller-coaster worth every moment. Thank you and I'm so glad that your little daughter, Erin loves the book and Flame. Would you mind if I posted your comment on my website? Where do you live? I'm most happy to meet you somewhere to write in the book. Perhaps send me an email at [email protected] from my website and we'll see what we can organise.
      October 5, 2011 at 9:05 am · Reply

Add a comment