The build-up of nervous tension prior to a conference is familiar territory to me now having attended three GCLS events and a Diva Literary Festival. And it didn’t diminish with having had these experiences in the weeks leading up to ELLCon – the inaugural European Lesfic Literary Conference.
As well as preparing notes for the panel I was on, there were the big questions of how many books should I take? and will anyone want to buy them? (Luckily some people did – a big thank you to them!)
I’m sure I wasn’t alone in this. The vendor room was buzzing with activity when I arrived on Thursday morning dragging my suitcase full of books and giveaway items. (Clothes were a secondary consideration in my packing…needing to make sure I could lift the case on and off trains on the journey to Bristol.)
With the table set up, there was still plenty of time before the first panel session of the day to chat with authors and other delegates, meeting some for the first time, including my Affinity colleague, Samantha Hicks.
The conference hotel was in a central location, next to the city’s impressive cathedral and close to the waterfront area – alive with bars, a funfair, and boats.
I ventured out on Wednesday afternoon and found a few of the Gromit Unleashed2 sculptures but generally had to wait for the other Gromit-trail hunters to move away in order to get photos. So, along with the pics I took of Wallace and Gromit, I’ve borrowed this splendid one of Feathers McGraw from my friend, Jody Klaire. (She’s photobombing in the background.)
That was the extent of my sightseeing. Later on I met up with two other friends, Robyn Nyx and Brey Willows for a Mexican meal. With a two-for-one offer on Mojitos, it was a good choice of venue! Lovely to catch up with these two who were celebrating their first year wedding anniversary and Robyn’s birthday.
Back to the business end of the conference, I took part in the last panel of the morning on the first day: When Writing Feels Like a Marathon – how to get over the finish line. May Dawney was our expert moderator and the other panelists were Nita Round, Harper Bliss and Jane Fletcher. I think I look somewhat petrified here as I know Harper is going to pass the mic to me next.
As with other conferences, I found the time slipped away quickly, and I know there were many missed opportunities for longer conversations and some people I didn’t chat with at all. But I have an abundance of precious memories.
So, what happened to the nerves I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Well, once the conference is underway and you’re meeting new and old friends, surrounded by smiles and hugs and laughter and the chance to spend two days talking about lesbian fiction…the nerves disappear and the joy of being in a loving, shared, safe space takes over.
Zara Wood and her team did an amazing job in preparation for the event and organisation throughout the two days. The city and the weather also played a part in creating a welcoming atmosphere.
ELLCon 2018 was a success…so roll on ELLCon 2019!