After a time, I knew I was going to reflect on the events of last year and how the world tilted on its axis and sent us into the virtual realm. However, I’ve just left yet another online discussion on the promotion of a new book and I loved it so much, I’ve decided to reflect on the actual events of lockdown. The planned events. The events that kept us going.
There were many I missed but would love to have joined. Yet low finances, schedule clashes, or just plain burn-out held me back. The ones I did attend though, they were bright gems lighting up connections, little nuggets of normalcy. They were all quite different, but I want to tell you why they were all wonderful in their differences.
Bernardine Evaristo with Nicola Sturgeon: The Triumph of Girl, Woman, Other
This was the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s most watched conversation at the time, so many can say it was possibly their favourite event of the entire festival. However, these are my particular reasons for enjoying it so thoroughly.
Despite not seeing any audience faces, I never felt like I was watching it myself. The little icon displaying the increasing numbers was so reassuring that I often found myself watching it grow as I listened. I just imagined that huge number scattering across the world, connecting us together through this shared event. It felt monumental after such a difficult few months. Having the event also chaired by Nicola Sturgeon, a familiar face and voice throughout the pandemic for many Scottish people, was oddly comforting. It was as though she was a steady grounding of home, with the traditional stage of the Book Festival background, as we reached out to Bernardine with a sense of reassurance.
Bernardine Evaristo, who has generously bestowed us with Girl, Woman, Other, beautifully reflects on the stories interwoven within the pages and the incredible characters we meet. It was a poignant discussion on the overall absence of black women in British literature and if you haven’t yet seen it, I urge you to watch it through the link on the Book Festivals events page.
Ellie Pilcher’s #MarketYourMarketing Workshops
After facing redundancy, like many people I struggled to find confidence in my abilities. The job market was literally overflowing, like a tidal wave constantly crashing and retreating. It felt like you either had to swim or sink and my arms were getting tired. Then, from finding the Publishing Hopefuls page, I stumbled across Ellie’s Twitter and blog and saw she was starting online events to help marketers like me. Her advice was so honest and genuine. I had been part of plenty of career events, CV and cover letter writing workshops and Q&As, but she just felt like she had empathy for us that many lacked. She tailored the events to make sure we were getting the most out of it, asking us what we wanted to know and never shying away from anything we questioned. She has wonderful events on utilising social media, how to network in lockdown and creating a marketing plan. Her guest speakers are equally as passionate and they do it all for free to make it as inclusive as possible. I advise you watch her past events on her YouTube channel if you want that boost of confidence.
The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex with Golden Hare Books
As I waited with anticipation for my copy to arrive, I attended the recent discussion with Emma Stonex on her new novel The Lamplighters. Golden Hare Books hosted a wonderful evening with Emma, who was so eloquent in her revelations surrounding the nature of the book. Emma was brimming with passion and it was so fascinating to hear her explore the themes of nautical mysteries and the history behind abandoned lighthouses that inspired her writing.
There was a particular reason this event stood out for me. Of course it included the enamouring conversation between Emma and our host Alice Tarbuck and the ultimate happiness of supporting my local bookshop. However, it was a comment that was made in the chat box by an audience member that felt so prominent. They had been so grateful for these online events as they lived on an island far off the coast of Scotland and therefore didn’t usually get to attend them. It was so heartening to see that this one hour could bring someone so much joy and really showed that lockdown brought at least one positive. It once again brought that feeling of connection, of gathering together for something we are all passionate about, even when we’re miles away.
It made me reflect on my love for events and those little moments of joy long after the event had passed. Successfully doing what events aim to do – stay with you.
If you experienced an online event that stood out for you, I would love to hear about it!