|Fabulously serious logo by Sarah McIntyre|
Normally, we writers and illustrators spend our days doing what we want, bossing around people who don't exist and skiving work to chat on Skype/Facebook/twitter about the work we should be doing. We're not used to being with other people all the time, or doing as we're told. We're not used to having to get dressed before working, eat at regular times, use a knife and fork nicely or sit quietly without telling a bunch of lies. But a conference is a proper organised thing with set mealtimes, talks to attend and other people to interact with.
So why do we go? Holiday!
CWIG is a delight. Full of old friends and potential new friends, a chance to gossip, eat, drink and whinge. If any snippet of useful information leaks in, that's a bonus.
|Nicola Davies, unfazed by being |
elbowed by a giant ghost - all in a
day's work for us
I loved it. And like all the best holidays, it had its grumble-points. The food was poor, the bar was hopeless, the cabaret compulsory (hah! we laugh in the face of compulsory!), the coffee undrinkable (that's serious) and the microphones non-functional. The Germans took all the sun loungers and there was tar on the beach. Oh. Hang on.
But we don't get this stuff every day, unlike, say, manager-type-people who are forever going to conferences and staying in the Scunthorpe (or Dubai) BestWesternMarriotHilton hotel. To be in a whole room of around 100 people, none of whom can be given green hair or three arms on a whim, is quite a novelty. CWIG is a weekend away in the real world.
|Only our invisible friends were|
We talked about the state of publishing (in turmoil), of what the hell the government thinks it's doing with libraries (wanton armageddonising), of the progress of e-books in children's publishing (mollusc-like in its rapidity) and whether Allan Ahlberg's glass contained red wine or Ribena (who knows?) And heard the usual disingenuous comment from a publisher that there's never been a better time to be a children's writer.
Now for my holiday snaps. Don't shuffle like that. You might like to visit the real world one day.
Here is our venue: a very plausible-looking Henley Business Centre at Reading University.
We had proper signage, just like real business people. Well, perhaps not quite like real business people.
Just in case we didn't know where to walk ...
.... and where to dance, there were some stick people drawn on the floor.
(Obviously the nice people at Reading know that all writers - and especially illustrators - speak fluent stick.)
We know how to dress. Alan Gibbons and John Dougherty, as usual, wore shirts chosen to burn out the eyes of Ed Vaizey. I won't dazzle you with those. Sarah McIntyre chaired her session in the best conference hat I have ever seen. [What do you mean, 'what's a conference hat?']
Allan Ahlberg brought his teddy.
And he had a drink on the stage, though his wasn't see-through, like they usually are when you see conferences on TV.
We all transacted our own little bits of networking and business. I secured a promise from Catherine Johnson to translate some text into Jamaican Fairy and asked Jane Ray if I could commission a dodo from her.
So you see, we do know how to do it.
I had a wonderful time, but holidays can't last forever and it's time to settle be back into speaking stick and bossing around a steam-powered autamaton and an orphan in a boat. Sigh.
(If you would like to read a more informative account of what happened at CWIG, you could turn to David Thorpe. I'm sure more will appear, and I'll update this list later in the day/week/millennium.)