So says the first page of the 2011 Auckland Readers and Writers Festival brochure, and so say many of us in Christchurch today. This time last year we were planning our trip to the 2010 Festival, and our heads were full of thoughts of books and writers and plane trips and the joy of people-watching and just plain being in Auckland.
Last year I was looking forward to airplane snacks and pillow menus and meeting amazing writers and speakers. This year I’m so looking forward to all of this, but I am also looking forward to reliably flushing toilets, buildings that don’t move around, and talking to people who can’t spell ‘liquefaction’, and who don’t know the geonet and crowe quake website addresses off by heart.
Last year I was frightened of interviewing famous people, wearing the wrong kind of black to events full of arty people, and being on TV for the filming of The Good Word Debate. This year I am a little scared I will get weepy in some of the sessions, not be able to remember where I am supposed to be, or even remember how to write about things other than portaloos and potholes.
Poor old Christchurch has lost our own festival twice now – once in September and once in March, and so to be able to go and share in Auckland’s Festival is doubly precious.
Director Jill Rawnsley says the festival is “both a haven and a hive of activity, reconnecting us with friends, feelings and hope”. As we begin to prepare for what will be five days of manic booky excitement, I am also happy our library can share some of this with everyone here at home too, not just the full-on festival buzz, but also the feeling that we are all part of a wider family who supports each other, through the good times and the not-so-good.
Also, those packets of airplane peanuts …