It’s lunchtime on the final day and as there’s no group lunch organised, I’m splashing out on some expensive nosh in the uber swish Fairmont Hotel across the road (from the equally lá-di-dah Mark Hopkins Hotel in which the conference is being held.) Pinot grigio and a chicken quinoa salad – in case you’re wondering. The giant bags of crisps washed down by ginormous cans of bud light that qualified as dinner for the past two nights have had to be consciously replaced by salad in response to calls from my swelling body. (And right on queue, said salad arrives and pronounces that it will not affect weight-line or waistline in a month of Sundays. The spoonful of quinoa hiding under the spoon-and-a-half-ful of spinach beside a breast of charred to within an inch of its life sicín is neither fattening, nor appetizing nor worth writing home about – ’nuff said.)
My mind’s buzzing to the tune of the conference, and it’s unsurprising given that it’s been four days of full-on schedules that saw us start at 07:30 (ish) and run through to 21:00 or 22:00 some evenings. The learnings have been immense, the content relevant and rich, the subject matter varied. Speaking to fellow candidates, we are all in the same boat, heads either fried or hopping from the levels of information we’re being blasted with. We will all work through the shrapnel of notes, key points, pyramids of business cards and poignant conversations as we detach from this and move through the next week or so.
And so as new friendships and networks are forged, and new novels and memoirs are about to be written and published, I raise my glass to the wonderful people I’ve met on this writing journey who have made being a part of the writing community so pleasurable. And to all those who came to and complimented me on my poetry reading the other evening, I’d buy you all a glass if you were here. Your kind words made me a very proud Irish woman. Sláinte!