Hello again fellow Children’s Writers and Friends,
First I must apologise, for although I had a semi pre-written post ready to go a day or two after KidLitVic 2018, I didn’t end up posting anything despite my promises to do so. I’m sorry. I have two reasons for this, one simple and the other a complex and surprising discovery about myself as a writer. The first was simply that I became unwell with a nasty cold after the conference. As I was there with my husband for a few days after KLV 2018, my focus was on being mobile and upbeat as we enjoyed the sights of Melbourne and explored his family history in nearby Malvern, and I genuinely forgot I had the post three quarters ready, or I would have posted regardless of feeling poorly. I may well post about the week and especially the Scribbles Masterclass on Voice and Characterisation with Jen Storer at a later stage, but for now, my surprising self discoveries.
Many writers, myself included are introverts and can find occasions where being social is necessary, difficult and daunting. What I have found though is that my introversion takes an interesting turn when there are larger numbers of people. I have always been shy, but believed that when I was able to be knowledgeable, interested in the topic of conversation and not totally lost (as in the days when I attended work functions when my husband worked for a financial company) I would be fine. At the pre-conference dinner beautifully organised by Tabitha Page, sitting at a table of no more than 15 people, I chatted away quite happily and relished the opportunity to meet and reacquaint myself with writers I had talked to online or at courses. The day after the conference at Lucinda Gifford’s delightful Dogasaurus Book Launch, and the impromptu lunch with four other writers and one confident and intelligent young boy (Catherine M’s) I was again readily able to chat with Heather Gallagher about her (and next year my own) upcoming launches and about the industry at lunch with the others. So despite being an introvert I am not completely socially inept and can sometimes even ‘talk the leg off a chair’ as the old saying goes.
Place me however, in a situation where there are 200+ people, even writerly people and you have an instant clam. I did fight it and managed to make even brief conversation with the many people who recognised me from my Facebook thumbnail picture. Being one of the few non Anglo Saxon members of many of the groups I belong to and with my somewhat unusual name I am usually fairly easily recognised even when I have my hair done, which I didn’t. Many other people did though, making several virtually unrecognisable. This too added to my discomfit and so even when I wanted to fight the clam effect, I didn’t always have a point of reference to begin a conversation without possibly offending someone I should know. If I ignored or did not recognise you or chat as you expected, please forgive me…. I’m so much better with the written word. And you were obviously killing it in the looks department!
I attended the smaller CKT Writers Festival early this year and have attended both the Writers Unleashed and the Writing NSW Kids and YA Festival ( previously NSWW Kids and YA Festival) in the past and did not experience these issues or at least not to anywhere near the same degree. The energy level built up during the anticipation period remained, if indeed the anticipation level was anywhere near the level of the bigger conference to begin with. I think it wise to mention here, that I had heard so many good things about KLV 2017 that the minute I heard tickets would be on sale, I put a reminder in my calendar. I excused myself from family on booking night and was one of the first to book, I know this as it only took about five minutes, tops. The anticipation only built as I joined in the KidLitVic Insider Group conversations and with members of another online group, The Duck Pond.
Here’s my other, no so surprising learning about myself, I really love the anticipation, so much so that it can even affect my experience of the real event. This is where I have to say, I couldn’t fault the event. It was planned, organised and executed with professionalism and precision that would rival that of Special Forces soldiers. My top three highlights of KidLitVic 2018, would have to be, firstly the super talented and super humble, Leigh Hobbs who spoke of his trials on the road to publication, and encouraged us to carry on! The illustrator portfolios and the opportunity for any and all of us to view the work of these incredibly talented artists through the day was just a wonderful experience. Finally, despite the fact my cold had taken hold of me by now, the relaxed, less supercharged atmosphere of the cocktail party as a way to round off the event was another highlight for me, despite its social nature, possibly because I no longer had to meet anyone new by then or because they tended to be small group conversations.
So, fellow travellers, attend festivals, conferences, courses, launches and as many literary events as you want and your budget allows, but be aware of which ones suit your personality best and be aware that something you’ve long waited for may provide an experience you hadn’t expected, simply because of who you are. That way you at least, will be prepared.
Farewell fellow travellers,
Enjoy the quest,
PS This is not new news, however, if any of you are a KidLit writer and are unaware, Scribble Booksis now open for submissions of Picture Books, but only for the month of June. So be quick, polish and submit and good luck!