Saturday, August 04, 2007

The annual staffroom gathering

People often ask me if I miss teaching and you know, the terrible thing is, I mostly only miss it when they ask me and I stop to think. The rest of the time, I'm so busy enjoying writing that my teaching days hardly figure in my thoughts.

Times I do miss teaching are when I see high school kids in the mall, especially from the school where I used to work, or when I'm invited to go and speak at a school, or when I get together with my teacher friends and hear them talking about work.

That last is something I do miss -- chatting with other teachers. The daily staffroom sharing of ideas, the give and take of advice, the jokes, the gossip. As a writer It's just me and my computer. Oh, there's email for communicating with fellow writers -- and the telephone, and the wonderful retreat I had with writer mates earlier this year, but the other big time for a major get-together of the staff (so to speak) is the annual conference of Romance Writers of Australia.

This is primarily organised for aspiring writers, but I never got to one until I'd already sold my first couple of books and I'll never forget my first conference in Brisbane and Helen Bianchin's wonderful, open-arms welcome. 'You're one of us now.'

The (rather dark) photo of us on the right is from last year's conference, when we were dressed in fancy dress for the cocktail party. This year we'll be more sedate as the theme is Venetian Carnivale and we'll be wearing glamorous masks ( a bit of a problem for those who wear glasses.)

That first conference was an indication of how it's been ever since. The writing sisterhood ( with the occasional brother) is incredibly special. Only fellow writers can understand the emotional attachment we have to our work, the vulnerability and self doubt.
Apart from that we have FUN! Dinners, cocktails parties, and lots of fabulous workshops. The level of professional expertise that's shared at these workshops would make a lot of other writing organisations goggle with surprise.
This year, I'm especially looking forward to Jennifer Crusie's full day workshop. She'll also be offering a tutorial just for published authors on theme and motif. But I'm also looking forward to hearing Bronwyn Jameson and Anne Stuart and a host of other wonderful speakers as well.

This year's conference is in Sydney, which means I'll also be able to catch up with a very special aunt. This dear lady is responsible for my lifelong love of books, because it was she who bought me 'Seven Little Australians' by Ethel Turner when I was seven. And then in subsequent years for birthdays and Christmas, she sent my sisters and me the rest of E T's books, plus the Anne books and Louisa May Alcott's books and the Pollyanna and Katy (What Katy Did) books. Sad thing is, that now Auntie D has macular degeneration and is legally blind, but I'm very grateful to the Hear A Book Service in Tasmania, which has put almost all my books onto tape for her and for anyone else who is visually impaired. They're available through libraries.

So if I'm quiet for the next week, you know where I am. I promise to come back with pics and gossip.


Nicola Marsh said...

Have a wonderful time, Barb.

Will miss catching up with you :(

Barb said...

Nic, I'll miss you too. :( But you make the most of precious little Jude. He's only tiny for such a short time.
Wish I could have a cuddle.

Nicola Marsh said...

You will, hopefully in Melbourne next year? :)

Phillipa said...

Have a great time Barb - I will get there one day, I promise!