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Reading Writing

John Marsden. Melbourne Writers Festival, 2018

Recently, a friend asked me if I’d ever experienced a ‘sliding doors’ moment. I didn’t even have to think about what my answer would be. I rattled off a moment from the past where a right turn, instead of the left that I took, would have drastically changed the course of my life.

I suspect that yesterday I experienced another one of these perfectly orchestrated twists of fate. Because maybe, rather than simply blaming poor time management skills, I was actually meant to be late to my first Melbourne Writers Festival event. Maybe I was meant to walk in on John Marsden right at the very moment he was unzipping his skin and revealing the inner scars that have no doubt been etched into the lives of each of his characters.

John Marsden.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with his work, John is an Australian author, perhaps most famous for the young adult series, ‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’. I was first introduced to the ‘Tomorrow series’ when I was about sixteen and, as luck would have it, the first four or five books had already been published by then. I gobbled them up with barely the urge to sleep or eat.

But let’s talk about the John Marsden of today. The John Marsden whose talk at the 2018 Melbourne Writers Festival I was quite late for, because I’m a goose who just happened to lose track of time on the wrong day.

I scurried out to the garage—car keys jangling, jacket half on, kissing the air around my husband and children—and I was off. I won’t talk too much about the drive there, but I will say the traffic was maddening and added ten more minutes onto my estimated time of arrival. (We should just skim over the moment I flicked the gear stick into reverse, instead of first gear, don’t you think?)

Upon arriving at the venue I apologised to the lovely girl manning the front desk. She smiled and directed me to an empty seat, with sympathetic eyes and very little fuss. One of the marvellous gifts of this writer’s festival of ours are the volunteers. Their passion for books and arts always shows, and how lovely it is to see (especially when you’re very bloody late. Omg.)

As I listened to the conversation unfold between John and his interviewer, I was struck by the quiet nature of the man. John Marsden, not the writer, but the ordinary, imperfect being, baring his soul to a room of strangers.

There was no talk of the books that fed my creative soul throughout my youth—I was clearly late enough to have missed that boat. But I found myself sitting there thinking: perhaps I am hearing exactly what I was meant to hear. Perhaps if I’d been there from the start, I’d have missed the relevance of a writer’s humanity in this whole reading/writing shindig.

Do you believe in fate?

Because, after yesterday’s frantic dash and subsequent late entry to Marsden town, I really think that maybe I do.

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3 replies on “John Marsden. Melbourne Writers Festival, 2018”

Fate is always there, gently prodding us to be exactly where we need to be when we need to be there. As a firm believer in fate, I sincerely believe you were absolutely meant to be late! He sounds like a remarkable person and, had you been a minute earlier, the universe’s message would have been lost. Fate has never let me down and I doubt she’ll ever let you down!

Liked by 1 person

So true! My only problem with the universe and all of her stepping in, is that it’s always AFTER the fact that we learn of her reasons. Even when it’s quite obvious the universe is cooking up a plan, I never can tell what its lessons will be until all is said and done. I wish Lady Luck would just hand us a piece of paper that told us the exact lessons we must learn from certain situations. It might make the difficult times in life a little easier to handle. ☺️

Liked by 1 person

Yes, the universe could be a little more thoughtful. It can certainly be agonizing to try to figure out why things happen when they do. I suppose we must simply trust life, and maybe resend the memo that we’d really like to know the why early on.

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