Monday, August 2, 2010
In Praise of Conferences
I love conferences. Whoever first came up with the idea of combining travel, parties, and professional development, and tossing in a luncheon and a banquet and a really good excuse to buy new shoes, deserves a medal in my book. But there are conferences and conferences – the larger ones are wonderful, but privately I’m partial to the smaller ones, like Bloody Words in Canada, and the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference, which was held this year in Greenwich.
They’re less dizzying, these conferences. More welcoming. And in that kind of atmosphere, amazing things can happen. Case in point: On my first day in Greenwich, I found Julie Cohen and Christina Courtenay, both fellow writers I had met before and liked and kept in touch with, and Liz Fenwick, whom I’d briefly met a year ago in London and whose blog I liked to follow. And before I knew it Liz was texting wake-up calls and taking me for breakfast at McDonalds where I met her good friend Biddy (also friends with Julie and Christina), and that evening everybody introduced me to their good friend Anna, and we all just got along so well that by the barbecue on Saturday, while we were sitting drinking wine (as one must, at these conferences) somebody said – and I confess it might have been myself – but someone said, ‘You know what we should do? We ought to start a group blog.’
And the others, who were also drinking wine, thought it a Very Good Idea.
So we’ve started one, and here it is.
Which goes to show you, many good and unexpected things can come from conferences. Has anything happened to you at a conference? Did you make a lifelong friend? Meet someone famous who really inspired you? Get lost in the hotel? We’d love to hear your story.