Conference Ramblings

It’s that time of year again. The one where dozens of editorial professionals take to their blogs to wax lyrical about the Society for Proofreaders and Editors conference they’ve just attended. In 2016, I sat at my desk growing more and more jealous and mentally kicking Six-months-previous Me who had decided she wasn’t going to go.

This year, I get to be one of those enthused bloggers. Because conference was UH-MAZ-ING. Really. I had the best time. So, if you’re reading this now and wondering if you should go next year, then start looking under your sofa for pennies and book in your babysitting favours, because it’s definitely worth it.

You’re probably thinking I must not get out much, to get so excited about a conference. You’d be right. But I have been to conferences before. The last one I attended was an event-management software conference in Birmingham, where I mainly stood around and talked to the other people from my organisation who’d persuaded their departmental directors that they really needed to go to this conference, I didn’t like the sandwiches, and I mostly had to sit and listen to the software company raving about the new version of the software that I knew our organisation wasn’t ready for. I was hoping  this one was going to be a little more worth my time.

It definitely was. After a slightly soggy dash to the tiny taxi office at St Neots station with a few other editors who were on the same train, I found myself in a taxi with those editors, Lynne Murphy (the linguist whose talk the next day I was very much looking forward to), and two American tourists who happened to be staying at the same hotel. I found my room, bumping into my friend Katherine Trail, who was in the room opposite mine, and had a little bit of a rest before the AGM and first-timers’ drinks reception.

The AGM was apparently the quickest on record. As an Intermediate Member of the SfEP, I didn’t get to vote, but I very much look forward to the day I get my little piece of red paper and can vote on things that I definitely will have read about in the agenda and know all about, unlike this year (oops). I met up with another friend, Julie Marksteiner, to go to the drinks reception. Julie is one of the many, many lovely people I have a great online relationship with but had never met in person. The best thing about the weekend was getting to meet up with people like her and finally put faces to names. (And accents. In my head, everyone talks like me.)

After drinks, it was time for dinner, and the pub-style quiz (presumably so-called because there was no actual pub, and we editors are nothing if not precise with our words). Our team did respectably, but sadly, the Maltesers were not to be ours (although I did get one – thanks, Luke Finley!).

The bar and the many conversations taking place in it were calling, but after a quick lemonade I decided to do the sensible thing and go to bed. Partly so I would be relaxed and refreshed and raring to go in the morning, but partly to relish as many moments as possible in a room that did not have random pieces of Playmobil lurking in every corner.

On Sunday morning, it was time for the bit I’d been looking forward to the most. The breakfast buffet. I’m pleased to report that it was very nice. Not quite up there with the king of breakfast buffets, the Premier Inn buffet, but then nothing is. (Don’t argue with me. I will fight you.)

And then we were off. Two days full of inspiring and informative workshops, sessions and lectures, punctuated by many cups of coffee, more buffets, and more “Oh, yes, I know you from Twitter!”. I attended sessions by Oliver Kamm, John Espirian and Louise Harnby, Lynne Murphy, Geoffrey Pullum, Emma Darwin, Daniel Heumann, Tracey Cowell and Jackie Mace, and Mark Forsyth, all of which I will blog about separately because they deserve far better than to be crammed in with my ramblings about breakfast.

I loved my conference experience. I made new friends, caught up with old ones, and learned so much about how to improve my editing and grow my business. The challenge for the next few weeks will be carving out some time to go over what I learned and think about how I can put that into practice. And write about it in the blog posts I just promised you. They’ll be more interesting than this one, don’t worry.

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