Not too young to write a memoir

Jessica Watson speaking at Byron Bay Writers’ Festival.
Jessica Watson speaking at Byron Bay Writers’ Festival. Patrick Gorbunovs

FOR Jessica Watson, Young Australian of the Year 2011, writing a book about her sailing experiences was a way to show "I was really ordinary".

Speaking at the Byron Bay Writers' Festival on Saturday, the girl who became the youngest person to sail solo, unassisted and non-stop around the world, said: "When I first started sailing I was scared of the water."

But she added that it wasn't just "a bit of luck" that she circumnavigated the globe.

"There were years and years of preparation and hard work," said the young author of True Spirit, The Aussie Girl Who Took on the World.

On May 15, 2010 after 210 days at sea and 24,285 nautical miles (about 40,000km), a then-16 years old Jessica Watson sailed her yacht Ella's Pink Lady back into Sydney Harbour.

A book deal had already been done long before that, she revealed.

"The book started out for practical reasons," said Jessica.

She needed money for her adventure and her advance from the publishing company made them a sponsor.

"I felt so weird about writing a memoir at 15 but it made the voyage possible," she said.

"I also needed to explain to people in my own words about what really happened (on my adventure) and the experience and knowledge that I already had.

"I wanted to get the story out of why my parents weren't crazy for letting me go."

Jessica said her book also made a statement that young girls can do anything.

A skilled and unaffected public speaker, the young Aussie appeared on stage with author and playwright Ned Manning and author Paul Carter for a session entitled True Lies: Writing Memoir.

Her other claim to fame, a stint on Channel Seven's Dancing with the Stars, rated a brief mention by the session host.

Topics:  byron bay writers' festival jessica watson lismore

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