On 3 January I caught a plane to Brisbane, then waited three hours for a bus to take me to Toowoomba with over a dozen other tutors attending the University of Southern Queensland McGregor Summer School. We arrived at the Uni at 6pm, just in time to be issued with our room key, dump our bags and front up for dinner. Thus began my initiation into the clamour and creativity of the 10-day arts course that allows anyone with the money to pay for it access to the skills and knowledge of tutors who are recognised experts in their field, be it painting, jewellery making, furniture restoration, music, singing etc. My small contribution to this pool of talent was in creative writing, with the sub-title of “Crime and Passion” that I hoped would attract writers who saw their future writing in these areas.
Nine eager, and somewhat apprehensive, writers wandered into the room allocated to us. A room that turned out to be the coldest in the building, with air-conditioning that sometimes drove us to take refuge in the small downstairs courtyard where we could thaw out. With one exception, none of these writers would see their twenties again, but it wasn’t long before they formed a cohesive and supportive group.
It’s now Day Eight, and although everyone is still eager, full days of learning and nights attending students and tutors concerts and doing “homework” are taking their toll, and yawning is as much a part of the day as hearty laughter or gasps of awe as each writer reads out what they have written. And my yawns are there too. I’ve tutored four-day workshops before, but this is the first time I’ve done a 10-day one and I’m looking forward to going home and sleeping in and having a couple of lazy days to recover. But with mail and emails piling up in my absence I doubt that will happen.