Background artiste from 'Better than Stars'

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

In-Fested - or why I like the children's literature festival

What's good about festivals? And the Bath Kids' Lit Fest in particular?

Bath Festival of Children's Literature

I know one answer ... it's a great event for kids who love books, a festival children bring their parents to rather than the other way round - but there are others better qualified than me to talk about that. Children, for instance. What's in it for someone like me, who keeps turning up to volunteer as a steward? It's not the T-shirts, that's for sure. Buttercup yellow. Need I say more? Nor am I especially altruistic: so I must be hoping to get something out of it.

Originally I thought I was going to sit at the feet of authors I admire, and learn ... and I have, but not much about writing: there are better contexts for that. It's been more about professionalism, and the whole business of being an author.

Perhaps I'm trying to get close to successful writers in the hope that something will rub off ... that looks slightly unpleasant now I've written it down.

Forget networking. There's nothing like being behind the scenes of a festival as an unagented, unpublished writer to make yourself realise exactly how low in the food chain you really are. And it's surprising how invisible you become when you're wearing a uniform ... those T-shirts again. Of course, you could always buy a book, queue up, get it signed and raise your status by becoming a fan. I did get into email conversation with an author a couple of years ago, but that was a result of attending an event as a punter.

Really it's none of these - or all of it, plus something else that's just as important. I've realised why I feel so good this week. The Festival is a celebration of children's literature, and a chance for people who care about it to get together. I'm sure the authors feel this too. It reminds us writing isn't always something you do on your own.

Either that, or it's an excuse to get away from the computer keyboard ... Nah. I can't wait to hang up the yellow T-shirt and get writing again. I'm inspired

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