Lionel Shriver at the Wheelers Centre

I attended a talk by Lionel Shriver at Federation Square on Tuesday night.

I usually avoid these kind of things because the audience is often full of wanky wanna-be writers with square glasses and pompous pre-rehearsed questions, that begin with "thank you for your time [insert author here], I'm a writer myself...". The last talk I attended tackled publishing children's picture books (one of my many professional desires). Come "question time / meet the authors" and the nausea set in. It was reminiscent of a Myer Boxing Day Sale stampede, reeking of desperation to nab some attention. I scurried out the back door with my scrappy journal of notes.  

Nonetheless, I braved the Shriver talk and was glad I did.

Shriver is probably most well-known for her book We need to talk about Kevin which I found to be an amazing read - both from a literary point of view and the confrontational topic matter. 

Her talk this week was a fascinating insight into so many topics - her new book Big Brother about the Western world's obsession with weight, eating, and the ridiculous desire for fame as well as the difficulties of navigating family dynamics. She was an engaging speaker who was frank about her life and her writing.

What resonated with me was the discussion about drive and ambition. "We are meant to be hungry" is not only referring to food, but to life. To lust, to desire, to have a goal: these are the seeds that plant the motivation. Wanting something is almost better than actually getting it, Shriver proposes.

From a writer's perspective, Shriver offered insight into the writing process, admitting that writing each book has been hard. She says she is grateful for the inbuilt insecurity of us writers, the "serial demotion" we seem so proficient at, for this is the edge that propels her forward.

The opportunity to hear her speak was well worth the parking ticket I received!