Just a week ago I was still a ‘Meet’ virgin, but no more. I’m just glad that if I had to lose my cherry that it was at the UK Meet in Bristol last weekend.
It was a weekend of many firsts for me. I went along with my own set of objectives in mind, but I couldn’t have known just how transformational such an event could be. All I’d wanted to do was:
- Increase my knowledge of the business.
- Get myself better known among my peers.
- Increase my social network.
- Sell some of my books.
It’s fair to say that those objectives were reached by the time we stopped for the first coffee break on day one.
During that mid-morning break I had my first epiphany of the weekend. A large number of the delegates attending the meet were readers. It was one of these who came up to me and told me how much she loved my books and how reading ‘Dear Santa, Dear Dad’ had resonated with her because of her relationship with her own father. Now, I’ve grown use to online reviews and comments both good and bad, but nothing can prepare you for the first time that a real person praises your writing face to face. By the time this lovely lady had finished I was trying to hold back my own tears and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Every word I write matters to me, but surely the greatest joy for an author is to find that your words also matter to those who read them. That one encounter made the whole weekend worthwhile for me and yet it was only the start of things to come.
Another expected benefit for me was the positive impact that the weekend hadon my lovely long-suffering partner, who I’d dragged along with me. First of all we were both blown away by the incredibly warm, friendly people who made us both feel part of the ‘gang’ right from the start. For him also came the realisation that it was not just me, all writers appear to be equally as mad! Best of all was seeing and hearing the reactions of my peers, both writers and readers towards me. In his mind this gave value to my work and somehow vindicated my efforts.
Apart from the personal benefits, the programme for the weekend delivered a wealth of useful, practical and valuable content. The panel lead sessions were all delivered by experts and generated lively discussions. Whether you were a seasoned author or an unpublished writer, a reader or a publisher, there were many things to be shared and learned.
We all know that writing can be the most solitary, even lonely of occupations.Possibly the most beneficial outcome of the UK Meet was the feeling that we really are not alone. We do not work in isolation. We are all part of an amazing collective. In any other business we would be strident competitors and yet there is a shared love which truly embraces the most disparate of characters in mutual support and understanding.
The whole weekend was well organised and full of awesome content. There was a lot of fun to be had and plenty of networking opportunities too. All this and yet it was organised and managed by a small team of hard working fellow authors. I have been to professionally run business conventions where valuable lessons could have been learned from the amazing UK Meet team. There we no low points in the event at all, not even the usual post lunch slump, because there was just too much to be awake for. I’m sure that just like any smooth running operation there was a lot going on beneath the surface (writers can be Divas too) but they kept the swan gliding gracefully throughout.
All good things do end but even on the last afternoon I had yet another epiphany experience while listening to the outstanding final key-note speaker Aleksandr Voinov. His words served to pull together all the threads of the weekend and reminded us why we write. I have come to this game in the second half of my life and there are stories to be told, passions to be directed and causes to be fought for. Yes I achieved my objectives, had a lot of fun and made some very real friends. I can’t wait for UK Meet 2015 to come around.
I have come home with a goal blazing before me. Writing about passion, with passion.
I want to write
I need to write
I will write.