Thursday, 4 September 2014

Reviewing Reviewer for a Day

By John Weldon

This is a review of a whole lot of reviews, so in a sense it’s a ‘meta review’ – George Brandis take note.

By a whole lot of reviews I mean 43 to be exact, written by 36 authors, each covering a different event in this year’s MWF. That’s 36 different writers, with 36 very different sets of skills, writing styles, and levels of experience; all edited by yours truly over the duration of the festival.

It sounds like an editor’s nightmare and I have to admit, as I waited for the first review to come in, I was wondering what I’d let myself in for. But it’s been an absolute thrill and I’m going to miss living the festival vicariously through the eyes and words of the #VUMWF14 team.

We at VU and MWF hoped that this program would offer writers a chance to dip a toe into the turbulent waters of professional writing. We’ve been alternately overwhelmed, firstly by the sheer number of applications we received for the program, then thrilled, by the quality of the work delivered, and then overwhelmed once more by way the reviews have been devoured by festival followers. We’ve had close to 6,000 page hits, our hashtag has been bouncing all over the Twitternet and we’ve done great word of mouth too.

And no wonder the response has been so strong. The reviews have been well written, clear, concise, witty, funny, astute, well observed and an absolute pleasure to work on. They’ve provided festival-goers and those who couldn’t make it along with an almost-live commentary and some real insight into the nature of this year’s program. For that I say a big thank you to the whole team. Let’s give them a cyber-round of applause. Not sure how you do that, but I’m sure someone will let me know.

Jane Seeber, Erica Myers Davis, Magdalena McGuire, Chloe Watson, Liz Lipski, Danae Bosler, Christy Collins, Carol Maurici, Diana Gaba, Peter Dewar, Radhika Chhotai Kotecha, Julie Marlow, Christine Croyden, Kamini Navin, Camha Pham, Octavia Spartels, Nalini Haynes, Melissa Manning, Emmyrose Hobbs, Paul Cumming, Marina Solomon, Tenaya Laird Richards, Nadine Cranenburgh, Emily Tatti, Cassandra Chilcott, Jacqueline Lademann, Simon Copland, Erin Reeve, William Schack, Imbi Neeme, Liz McShane, Calum Davies, Lee Kindler, Ioanna Katiforis, Sasky Stewart, and Caroline Petit.

I’m looking at the stats and the overview of traffic on the site as I write this and I’m supposed to pick out highlights. I can see, via these stats, the stories that really made a splash and those that attracted a smaller (more select?) audience, but I’m loathe to single out any reviews or reviewers as it really was a team effort. The #VUMWF14 Reviewer For a Day program is not about celebrating stars it’s about opening the doors to the writing world to as many people as possible, it’s about spreading the word, it’s… and I think I’d better stop there because I’m starting to gush.

All that is left to say now is: when can we do this again?

Check out the Victoria University Reviewer for a Day project here.

John Weldon is a writer and author who lectures in Professional and Creative Writing at Victoria University.

You can find him here: @johnrweldon


  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity. This whole experience has given me confidence in my ability as a writer, so much so that I have now registered my ABN and started pitching for work around the place as a freelancer.

    But, it's not just about my own work, I have been blown away with just how good everyone else is. There are so many talented writers out there.

    Thanks one and all. Is it too soon to sign up for next year? Or what about the Melbourne Fringe?

    1. Thanks Jacqueline. I'm thrilled to hear that the project has given you such confidence - that's exactly what we were hoping it might do!

      We're working on next year already and we'll keep you posted about any other opportunities that may arise out of this.




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