Anita Desai was also a highlight -- her talk was wonderful, as was her reading and the breakfast with her. She's smart, articulate, thoughtful; I want to watch her talk again at some point, just so I can slowly think about everything she had to say about exile and memory and such. Hopefully our recording came out well.
Another aspect of the festival that I really appreciated was hearing the more established writers talk about how long they've spent on various books. Three-four years/book seems pretty common. This is making me feel a lot better about my current book state; I have multiple books in progress, but none are super-close to completion. I think that's okay. While I can write very quickly when under deadline, I'm beginning to see that I need a lot of processing time to do my best work. Maybe I'll have a lot of time to think while breast-feeding. :-)
There are, of course, things I would do differently next time around. A few notes to myself for next time:
- book a few more medium-name panelists, to draw audience
- partner with a bigger event, if reasonable, to draw audience
- pay smaller honorarium to keynote speaker; we just can't afford the big ones yet
- try very hard to get venue for free; despite discounted rate, paying for UIC hit our budget hard
- hire publicist earlier, at least three months out