Just last week, in the midst of a deadline-driven, timeline-shortened, mega-squeezed period of work, I was wondering WHY ON EARTH do I do this? That is, why do I volunteer for a community organisation that doesn’t pay me for my time; gives me complex puzzles to solve; and even occasionally difficult people to work with, all on top of my ‘real job’ and in my ‘spare time’?
Have remembered the reason. Today was the first day of the Ballarat Writers & Illustrators Festival, and it was inspirational. Not just for the organisational feat of it, but also for the energy it created. The joy in being involved with the development and production of something that so many others clearly value and appreciate – that is why I do it.
The energy in the room was palpable. Panelists of authors, illustrators, publishers and editors shared their experiences in the CYA industry and I found myself wishing for a time-slip (thanks Kate Constable) so that we could stay in that zone a while longer. I was also struck by the contradiction that writers and illustrators are nowhere near the highest income earners, but just look at what they GIVE to our society.
Fascinating too, to hear what people working in the industry think of the world-wide surge in ‘digital publishing’; who is embracing it and how; and how to come to terms with it as a writer. I can give no simple answers here, except to say that the book is NOT dead. From what I saw and heard today, our options as readers and writers are just broader. Personal preferences will always have a say in what sells, just like learning styles and personality types. Me, give me a hard copy book any day – the tactile element adds to the experience of reading in a way I don’t imagine eBooks will be able to compete. At least for the moment. There’s a definite appeal in being able to load up a digital reader with dozens of documents rather than lugging them around. But the smell and feel of a new book? Can’t beat it.
It wasn’t just the panelists who shone today. Without the small army of Ballarat Writers Inc committee members and volunteers, the festival would not have been possible. My heroes were Danielle, Jill, Melissa, Nadine, Elliot, Frank and panel chairs Julie, Betty, Jackie, Maryanne and Alice for leading and shaping the day.
There’s one more day to go, and another round of fabulous authors, illustrators, publishers, editors, chairs and volunteers on the program tomorrow. I’ll sleep well tonight, but even better tomorrow.