The Digital Writers’ Festival, run by the Emerging Writers' Festival, is an online-first writers’ festival dedicated to celebrating the work of writers from Australia and across the world, and fostering new relationships through collaboration between writers, wherever they may be. I joined the festival in 2016 as Director.
DWF allows EWF to expand their audience and reach, creating room for conversations we can’t have when bound to a place, and finding audiences who can’t join us here. 2016 marked the third DWF and as director I used the space to continue to ask: what does a writers’ festival look like when it takes place online? We streamed panels on YouTube Live, hosted workshops in Google Hangouts, published digital work on our website, found other spaces to lurk in the world wide web, and tweeted with a healthy dose of gifs.
At the centre of the programming, panels brought together artists from their offices or their bedrooms to talk all things writing: from what it means to write criticism today, to being a young editor, to making podcasts - and topics beyond and between. In 2016, many of our panels kept returning to one central question: what does it mean to be a writer in online spaces? Our artists are largely - but by no means entirely - young and have spent their entire writing careers online. The internet isn’t explored as a strange world onto itself, but the world our writers live in and navigate their lives through every day. Why not take part in a writers’ festival there, too?
One of the great joys of producing the Digital Writers’ Festival is to spend eleven days shining a light on these writers and this space, and for them to remain online to be accessed and discussed over and over again.