Scone Literary Festival launches new writing competition for farmers

SEND YOUR STORIES: Competition coordinator and SLF committee member, Robert Thurgood (left) with judge, farmer and author Richard Anderson, SLF president Janie Jordan and Bengalla's Fiona Hartin.
SEND YOUR STORIES: Competition coordinator and SLF committee member, Robert Thurgood (left) with judge, farmer and author Richard Anderson, SLF president Janie Jordan and Bengalla's Fiona Hartin.

IF you're a farmer in the Upper Hunter, the Scone Literary Festival wants to hear your story.

In a first for the committee, a brand new competition for aspiring writers from the local farming community was launched last night at Hunt a Book, Scone.

Entries are now open for farming stories in 750 to 1500 words. They may be fiction or non-fiction, an anecdote, a funny story, a sad story, a personal story, a story about family or animals, crime or romance.

From horses and cattle, to wine and food, sheep and dogs - if you have a story, this is your opportunity to tell it.

It could even be a poem, or an essay. If anything it's an opportunity to get the drought off your mind, put pen to paper and express yourself in heartfelt words.

"No literary festival is complete without a writing competition," festival president Janie Jordan said.

"And this year with the drought we thought writing could be a good release from the everyday challenges."

Quirindi-based farmer and successful author Richard Anderson, who will also be a judge of the competition, was in Scone to launch the new initiative.

He shared his own journey from farmer to writer and praised the Scone Literary Festival for it's "inspired ideas".

"I think it's so inspirational that you guys get together and do things like this," he said.

"Scone and the Upper Hunter has had such a rough time with the drought but you people are out there in the community doing things."

After studying journalism in the 80s and working as a journalist in Sydney for a few years, Richard decided he wasn't ready to give up life on the land.

So, he returned to his family farm west of Quirrindi near Blackville and has been there ever since.

"I always thought and hoped that I would write when I got time, however, I really couldn't find the time, especially with young kids," he said.

"So, there's a fair stretch of my life where I didn't do much writing."

An opportunity came up for Richard to work as a relief driver at the Werris Creek coal mine and instead of using the many solitary hours in a truck worrying about the farm, he decided he was going to write the novel he was always thinking about.

Now he has three published books with a fourth coming out next year.

Fittingly, the competition is sponsored by Bengalla Mining Company, with many members of our rural community also working at mines down the Valley.

"There are lots of farmers out there driving long distances, waiting for trucks, moving cattle and waiting for things to happen," Anderson said.

"So it's an excuse for people who thought they might have had a bit of talent or a story to tell to have a go at it, I mean what can you lose."

You could even pick up prize money of $500 for first place and $200 for second. So, what is your story?

Entry forms are available online at www.sconeliteraryfestival.com.au and also in person from MacCallum Inglis in Scone. Entries close January 31 2020

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