Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Cheltenham Report, Part 2

[Published in small chunks so that Blogger doesn't throw a hissy fit]

For next year, I think they have to give some real thought to exactly who the market is. The divide between newbies and others was a bit artificial. I can well see why they wanted to protect the real writers from the total beginners, but the divide didn’t quite work, and a lot of those on the cusp of professionaldom felt poorly treated.

Some teething problems…
- full programme not available for a long time, so you never really knew whether it was going to happen or not
- lack of on-line facilities for payment
- on-line “booking” for sessions on the newbies day, that turned out to be irrelevant
- no list of delegates produced (so networking not facilitated as well as it could be)
- name badges could have had names that you could read at a few paces.
- expensive, at least for those struggling to make a living from writing. Not helped by the fact that they began offering cheap deals on the day, which really pissed off those who had paid full whack.
- Given the price, food could have been included.
- A slightly disappointing end to the programme, so people tended to slip away during the course of Friday rather than stay for a climactic finish (I imagine the party at the end was pretty much for the runners)

But, that’s just constructive criticism designed to make next year so much better.

Overall, and considering it was in its first year, I was really impressed at how well the whole thing ran. It was organised extremely professionally, with some seriously serious presentations by some seriously serious folk in this industry. Let’s hope it manages to retain that level of support in the future.

Of course, the weather made everything even better (though the smaller room got seriously uncomfortable at times). But sitting down by the marquee and the lake sipping coffee or beer (depending, largely, on the time of day), and chewing the fat with whoever was around was extremely pleasant. One of my best memories is simply of sitting on a bench in the shade of an enormous old beech tree, completely alone, pondering the things I’d heard for half an hour or so (until Adrian ruined it by insisting on joining me!).

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