Being at an event that you’ve programmed can be a very strange thing. It’s like going behind the counter at your favourite cafe– suddenly, the mechanics of the space become visible and your outlook on the whole experience is totally different.
The National Writers Forum programme was a long time in the planning. Thinking about what New Zealand writers from across genres really needed and wanted was a formidable task. Even while I was having a lot of fun talking with writers to shape masterclasses, invent panels and decide how to frame a debate, it was hard to picture what it was going to feel like when the weekend finally did arrive and the delegates had their turn to assess what we had put together for their consumption.
From my side of the counter the weekend felt electric. From Chris Cleave’s brilliant keynote speech, to the riotous and rich debate, to the wonderful final panel session where Paula Morris mined for gems of advice from writers who had already taught us so much – the National Writers Forum felt like a real thing, a properly formed event that was feeding very hungry minds.
The weekend wouldn’t have been so wonderful had it not been for each and every individual effort from the 44 writers and publishers who came to speak. We are incredibly lucky to be able to draw on such a wealth of talent. And I’m very grateful to everybody for working so hard to communicate experiences, perspectives, lessons and ideas.
All events can benefit from an updated recipe – mixing together what worked, with an ingredient that might enhance it even more. For those of you who attended this inaugural bake – let us know what you loved, what you wanted more of, and what might have been missing.
Thanks so much for coming! And sorry for the café/baking analogies – events make me hungry! Claire Mabey
Images from the National Writers Forum. From top: Stephen Daisley, Anna Mackenzie, and Kate Pullinger; Chris Cleave; Nalini Singh; audience at the great debate; Julie Ryan, Patricia Grace, Maria de Jong, Anita Arlov.