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We all get so excited about opportunities as they come our way, and then we spend our waking hours dashing from one event or meeting to another, barely slowing down to be in the moment!  

I was really thinking about this as I walked this morning.  What makes ‘busy’ the right way to live? Why are we so preoccupied with filling in the gaps in our day?

Then I was thinking about the ‘gaps’ and how possibly this is the domain of the coincidence? If we are not ripping around, will we hear things; see things; read things that are meant for our attention?  

I couldn’t help but wander back to one of the most special ‘slow’ days I had had recently.  It sounds like a cliché, but the sun was shining and there was a promise on the breeze. The car was nearly loaded, and again, as I moved another box, I wondered why choose the heaviest of single products (books) and my second thought - how many carrier trolleys does a small press publisher go through in a lifetime (my third one had broken at the last event!). 

I was setting off to the StoryArts Festival, in Ipswich, to share more about the world of small press publishing to a surely enthusiastic crowd, and I was to set up in a market place of local publishers.  My diligent co-presenter Julieanne Wallace had wrangled a PowerPoint presentation covering all aspects we wanted to share and I was making great time to ensure I was organised (and not flustered!) A ‘whoop’ of joy as I pulled into the venue drive-through – it was a hotel with one of those fancy-smanzy super-duper luggage trolleys!  I was set! In situ, and organised.   The presentation was done with aplomb in the designated time, and then I settled into my stall. 

Slow. Slow. Slow…

Perfect! Perfect! Perfect!

One of the guests who had attended the session earlier asked me a question. I had time to answer. Actually, I had time to walk her through her project practically page by page, creating a dummy rough and she was happily embracing my testing of some theories I had when it comes to a means of communicating book design to others.  I had been busting to share this for ages. 

Beside me, another stallholder was dinking through emails, happy to be interrupted by conversation.  There was simply no rush. All the guests at the festival were in their allocated sessions. No one was in the market place.  We dawdled through an introduction and with the speed of summer beachside banter, we worked out what each other businesses were focused on, how we could collaborate and be of use to each other in the future.  Business cards swapped, emails by way of follow up promised.  I couldn’t believe it – on my ‘wish list’ was distribution for International Read to Me! Day, and now there may be a possibility of working with Novella Distribution in the future.  

One step to the right and another familiar name! Anne-Marie Finn from the gorgeous book store ‘Mad Hatters Bookstore’.  Another ‘to do’ list was organizing and event there, 

Lunch and one of the guests – Dimity Powell, a familiar face as I had happily been stalking her on Facebook – popped out of the melee! It was so wonderful to walk to someone, with a smile and knowing their name, a warm introduction. 

Time again when everyone returned to their sessions. I had been deliberating if I should or shouldn’t leave the venue to see the amazing ‘Narelle Oliver Exhibition’ merely a block away.  I did! The exhibition was curated and hosted by a very dear friend of Narelle’s,  Lee Fullarton, who injected a whopping amount of humility and grace to the conversation about the exhibition.  With illustrations from her last book, Oliver’s family was beyond generous with what they shared.  It was very special. Heart warming. Endearing, Inspiring.  It was about to travel; this was the last day in Ipswich. Yet I was flummoxed it wasn’t going to Toowoomba… Surely this could be done in 2018. A quick chat to festival organiser and Book Links Founder Jenny Stubbs, to make an offer to do whatever I could to make this happen – and this offer was accepted.  Add to list!

At this point I’d love to have been able to say ‘I packed up frantically to dash to Brisbane, but I’d be exaggerating.  After Yvonne Mes bought a bundle of my books, in her capacity as assistant festival organiser, she lent me an even more elaborate trolley.  It was so easy peasy peaceful as I bundled up the stash, heading off one box lighter than I arrived!    

It was a very peaceful drive to Brisbane, the navigator set for the Queensland State Library, home of the Brisbane Writers Festival. I was so excited, actually – I was beside myself with nervousness – I had said yes to the indefatigably generous CEO of the Queensland Writers Centre, Katie Woods, to being involved in a Publishers Pitch.  Whilst I was open to the idea of children’s picture book manuscripts, I was really interested in discovering passionate literacy advocates who may be interested in either International Read to Me! Day, or weaving their magic into a child’s day as a Child Writes Tutor.

I was early. More time to sit, ponder, chat and banter.  Katie introduced me to two board members, Jo Sparrrow and the Chair, Leanne Dodd. There was a blink of realisation that they may be interested in a writing and wellbeing symposium I was wanting to organize, Unleash the Beast – and they were!  Leanne is going to present at the symposium next year, sharing more about her amazing program using writing as a form of therapy and to promote wellbeing, as is Edwina Shaw.

We had a glass of wine together, celebrating a successful event, and a typical balmy Brisbane evening.  It was so lovely to reconnect with Leonie Tyle (when we met she was involved with Woolshed Publishing, now has a fabulous consulting business – one of the jobs they were involved with was judging for the Dorothy McKellar Awards, which incidentally, a Child Writes graduate won the senior section!) 

I tipped myself back into my car and, with the erudite company of Richard Fidler (again!) I was home 14 hours after I’d left that morning.  Deeply content, knowing a truism that there is no such thing as coincidence and a joyful realisation that we create our own connections, if only we allow for time to do so!


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