It´s really all about people

I´ve just come back from a wonderful long weekend in Geneva.  The main reason for going was to attend the 20th anniversary of the Geneva Writers´ Group. And what a wonderful celebration it was! But respooling now. I was spoiled rotten!
Arrived Friday and was chauffered about by a good mate to dine with an old friend from my old day-job days. I brought the food from Vienna because my hostess couldn´t get around too well, and it was a lovely evening of reminiscing and tongue-wagging. Another old mate picked me up and brought me back to mate number 1´s place where, surprise! More mates from my other life were waiting for dinner. Yes, more dinner. And chatting and going back over the years, singing and laughing till the early hours.
Then off to Webster uni where I was privileged to read some flash fiction pieces from Mercury Blobs. It was an emotional experience. Twenty years ago, it was in this group that I claimed my right to write as I saw fit.  I was amazed at the lovely comments on my reading. Isn´t it funny, how insecure one can be when getting one´s work out there. My hands were trembling at the end. I´d brought along some copies of Mercury Blobs, sold a few, swapped a few, gifted a couple. Even some copies of Back Burning changed hands.  My books were gone and I had new ones by GWG members: The Banker´s Daughter by Caroline Thonger, Untethered, a YA novel by Katie Hayoz, and copies of Offshoots 12 – Reflections, the anniversary issue hot off the press and specially launched for the event.
Before my reading there was a great panel with Daniella Norris, another GWG member, and guest presenters, Jessa Crispinof Bookslut fame, and Tasja Dorkoficis, an editor, who I believe runs the Morges literary event, Le livre sur les quais.
A sandwich lunch in the sun and then on to a critiquing session where the panel consisting of Susan Tiberghien, Donna-LaneNelson and yours truly, gave feedback on queries and synopses, and some flash fiction. Good fun, where the panellists also learnt a lot. This sharing and crosspollination is one of the strengths of the group.
Cocktails in the sun followed by a scrumptious meal, the announcement of the winners of the GWG Literary Prizes:
·      Fiction:  Winner:  “Marcus”, Nancy Freund
Honorable Mention: “El Camino”, Amanda Callendrier
(Judge: Bret Lott)
·      Nonfiction: Winner:  “Gâteau de Payerne”, Patti Marxsen
Honorable Mention:  “Different Degrees of Darkness”, Kathy Bijleveld
(Judge: Dinty W. Moore)
·      Poetry: Winner: “Mind over Matter”, Adrienne Hahne
Honorable Mention: “Faith”, Jan Harrington
(Judge: Wallis Wilde-Menozzi)
and 50-word tributes on what the GWG meant to us all, collected in a book of photos for Susan Tiberghien, founder and heart of the group. Eleven of the early members were there to also add their memories, and the evening concluded with a super tongue-in-cheek rendering of the GWG song, cabaret style. What struck me was that not once during the tributes and readings was there chatting on the fringes of the more than 100 assembled writers and friends. We were all in the moment!
So it was not surprising that on the train back to Geneva chatting to Alan McCluskey that the passion of the event and our discussions led to my forgetting one of my bags of light travel on the train. Crikey! All my plugs were in that bag. 9pm Saturday night is not a time when any offices are open at Geneva Cornavin´s station, but the police were there.
I´ve never felt comfortable around people in uniform, despite having had to wear one at school and at Girl Guides, despite having almost been part of the career-girl black suit look, anyway … it really is only all about people. And these eye candy young men bent over backwards to help trace my bag, and have it delivered 20 minutes later by a young station mechanic who said to my thanks. “That´s what we´re here for.” Don´t judge a book by it´s cover makes infinite sense. I usually don´t  when some blue spiky hair is involved, but here I learnt to extend it the other way, too. Merci, guys!
On to the tram with no ticket (sshhh!) and then losing my way in the night to my new abode at another mate´s place. Luckily, got there before the storm. And on Sunday, a stroll and lovely lunch of real steak tartare and some Gamay, exchanging thoughts and impressions with another old friend, admiring her tattoo collection, sipping tea back home and just chilling. Monday morning goodbyes at the airport and back in Vienna just after noon.
Thank you to my mates! Thank you to GWG! You all made and you make my stays in a city I thought I´d never return to, so good, so human, so stimulating, so much fun. It really is all about you guys. It really is all about people, our stories, our sharing. Happy!

6 thoughts on “It´s really all about people

  1. Was wonderful spending time with you, mate. I still miss having you nearby for”emergency” readers of what we just wrote. Thank goodness for Skype…

  2. I must say that you inspire me as a reader. Your passion and honesty is so refreshing. I too am thankful for GWG for helping me to link up with talented authors. Oh and boy oh boy would I have loved to hear you and Alan talk! I would have been all ears and wide eyes!

  3. It was so fun to see you and listen to your reading on Saturday. To be honest, I’m blown away they were so nice to you about looking for your bag on the train. You must have better karma or something than I do! 🙂

    1. There´s a trick they teach you about managing upwards, Katie. But it could also be employed by some bosses when mangaging downwards, too, although in my experience people at the top rarely listen;): Zero in on what the boss thinks is in his interest. Thing is I was really worried they´d think I planted a bomb and they keep saying they´ll destroy left luggage, and I did have all my plugs and cords in there – for the phone, the camera, the kindle – and some good kabanossi sausage and ham, plus my duty-free fags. Plus, they asked for my phone number and saw it wasn´t in CH. So I reckon it was also in their interest to keep their cool. I reckon they did well, and I just followed my gut. So it all worked out well. Don´t think karma was involved though.:)So it was a great conference and being back was good, too. You keep at it, Katie. You´re good!

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