I consider my job to be something like an event planner, as I organize family and teen programs and author events for the busiest library system in the country. I generate ideas, pull together the details, try to consider all the various angles and plan, plan, plan.
I like to think I’m pretty good at my job. And that my organizational skills are well-honed. So when I had an inspiration that one of the small cities with a library might serve as the perfect location for a book festival, it didn’t really occur to me that I was taking on a herculean task.
I managed to convince some other people that the book festival could work, including the art council in Kirkland, WA where I wanted to hold the festival. I convinced Sheryn Hara, the owner of Book Publisher’s Northwest, and someone who had previously worked on organizing a festival in Seattle to join the fun.
Like a delusional fit, the idea spread. More community partners signed on, and we sent off a press release outlining our idea. Then even more people contacted us to become part of this now ever expanding idea.
We contacted authors to be on panels, created a website, began collecting ideas for writing and publishing workshops and signing up exhibiters. The workload increased as ever more details became necessary. There were insurance issues, permitting, arranging for the use of space, publicity, author bios and photos to assemble, panel organization (and reorganization), sponsor requests, signage — the list could fill this page.
Needless to say, inspiration quickly turned to perspiration. Schedules were created, then modified and changed and then changed again. But it was coming together. There were going to be all kinds of panels featuring authors of all kinds of genres. Writing and publishing workshops were offered by industry professionals, poets would read, musicians would sing about books that inspired them. Rocks stars would serenade little kids about reading.
On October 1 and 2, all this inspiration, planning and work came together. There were frustrations, as our tenting company left on Friday evening with the job unfinished… and never returned until it was time to pick up the mess they’d left. The main highway to the small city was closed. It rained.
And yet, thousands of people made the effort, took a different route and discovered the pure joy of sitting in a room with other people who love books, stories and literature and listening to the people who weave magical kingdoms from words. It didn’t matter if you read your words on paper or a digital screen.
What mattered is that the love of books is alive and well in Kirkland, WA. My “moment of zen” was standing in the Kirkland Teen Center and watching hundreds of teens lined up to see Young Adult authors and get their books signed.
Northwest Bookfest has returned.