I’ve often talked about the early stages of my creative development as being sort of an “empty vessel” – where I’ve built a fairly decent platform, clarified my direction, gained increasing understanding of relevant industries, but not really had the complete body of work or perfect singular work to back it up.
This year’s London Book Fair was the first time that I didn’t feel so empty. Having finished what I generally regard as the final draft of The Wrong Ghost, I didn’t feel any elements of imposter syndrome, or that I was at any time faking it- playing at being an author instead of actually being one.
Some new writers work content-first, then build their vessel around it, others build the vessel then fill it. Both methods are perfectly valid and have their own difficulties and rewards, and all that is left at the end is to just power forward, which is exactly what I’m going to do with The Wrong Ghost. I’ve said before with some disingenuousness that I wanted to “focus down” on it, but now that the draft is complete, things are falling into place so fast and easy it seems almost inevitable. Still scary and challenging, mind you.
I wonder however if this attitude coloured my enjoyment of this year’s London Book Fair. This year, the seminar programme seemed specifically aimed at new writers in the very early stages of their creative development, or those seeking to build and maintain entrepreneurial self-publishing careers. I don’t know if it’s the direction of the programme that has changed, or my own needs. I’ve wondered before if the less notes you find yourself making, the more you already know.
Everything else on the schedule seemed to be selling a product or service, which of course makes sense as it is a Trade Fair, but I remember a lot more “discussion for the sake of discussion” material in previous years. There were some talks and seminars this year that sparked some interesting ideas, although they tended to be not be directly related, and only relevant to things I’m already working on.
Even the networking seemed a little odd this year, a sort of speed-dating affair where the objective was to gather the most mutual Twitter follows, shake all the hands and, pose for as many photos as possible. to me, truly valuable networking involves understanding the projects and skillsets of others, and identifying potential avenues of support or collaboration. That said, I did duck out of a few networking events, either to attend lectures at BAFTA… or to sleep.
All in all however, London Book Fair is managed better every year, with better facilities, design, displays and seminar theatres, and everyone there is unbelievably nice and genuine. We’re all there to make the industry more beneficial and exciting, after all.
And I won’t lie, every time I arrive at London Book Fair, I feel like John Spartan when he first enters the sewer in Demolition Man. I don’t quite fist-pump the air and yell about how these are all my people, though.
That’s the closest thing you’ll get to a review from me this year, although I went into more detail in 2013 and 2014. I did consider making a video log, but they never tend to get the full attention they need from me:
Top of my table for the next week is to get my Game of Thrones content out before the new season starts. That’s going to be at least two videos, maybe more.