Lots of highlights. Here are a few:
- Getting to spend a weekend with about 50 other writers and illustrators, talking about writery (and illustrationish!) stuff.
- Meeting someone who was in my antenatal class when we were both having our first child!
- A great workshop on Revision Techniques with Joanna Orwin. We all ended the session wanting to go home and try them out straightaway, but it was only Saturday afternoon and there was still lots of good stuff to come.
- The panel discussion on graphic novels with Ant Sang and Dylan Horrocks. I didn't expect to find this so interesting, but I know very little about graphic novels, and Ant and Dylan are both passionate about them - so it was fascinating. And listening to anyone talk about how they tell a story, in whatever medium, makes you think about how you do it too.
- A heartbreaking talk and slide show by Mary Sangster about how the earthquakes affected The Children's Bookshop and the offices of Te Tai Tamariki upstairs
- A delicious breakfast at Cafe SisMo. If you're in Christchurch, they're worth a special trip to Riccarton (find them on Facebook!)
All though the weekend, people who had gone out to look at the central and eastern parts of the city came back sobered and reflective. Seeing it on TV just isn't the same as walking or driving around and seeing it for yourself - the razed sections, the boarded-up houses, the wonky bridges and potholed roads, the sadness of the ruined cathedral.
But there were good parts too. The shipping container mall - much fancier than I expected:
Poems painted on walls by Poetica, the Christchurch urban poetry project.
The Quake City exhibition, so well done (even with a screen of quake-related cartoons at the end in case you needed cheering up):
And the new cardboard cathedral, nearly finished:
Christchurch was a very special place to hold our writers and illustrators get-together. In fact I think every organisation should think about holding a meeting there if possible. I certainly have renewed respect and more understanding of what Christchurch people have been and are going through.