Friday, April 07, 2006

Litfest Litanies Litter My Life

(Glimpses from behind the lines organising the first KL Litfest, taken from my notebook. This was written July 23, 2004)

By this time next week we will be two-thirds of the way through the Litfest and perhaps beginning to breathe again.

But there's still the time till then to go, filled with panic and anxiety and the certainty that any little thing that's overlooked will turn in to a big problem later on!

I am not well. I feel under so much stress I cannot sleep for more than an hour or two at a time, and then wake up with beating heart praying that I will be able to get back to sleep again. I have gastritis very badly - a dull ache behind the breastbone - is it anxiety or is it the antibiotics I am still taking for the tummy upset? My eyes are sore from spending too many hours replying to the stream of e-mails - and no sooner have I answered one batch, than another batch floods in, all needing to be answered right now.

Plenty of crises to cope with.

Only now do we have information about the performance the Singaporeans are putting on for us. (They finally found their own venue in a new nightclub - absolutely THE place in town.)

One of our keynote speakers is proving to be totally uncontactable, but the embassy in question have found us someone else much more exciting at the last minute.

One embassy called up angrily and said "Who told you we were showing that film? We certainly didn't". But that is now sorted out amicably.

One speaker whom I thought didn't want to present because he didn't send me an outline of his session, now says "How come I'm not on the programme?"

Just examples. Just a little selection.

Then dealing with Raman who drives me mad. Today I walked out on him when he refused to discuss something sensibly and trust my professional judgment. Later he saw me on the street and came actually gave me a hug and kissed my cheek (and this is Malaysia where such things are never done) and seemed to have had backed off from his previous intractable position. I was pleased I hadn't got angry or upset, but had made my point.

But nice things too. A before breakfast (because of the across-the-world time difference) press conference with Oscar Hijuelos in New York. the journalist once again asked pretty daft questions and weren't prepared, but he managed them graciously. He seems so nice and it was a delight to hear him talking about his work. His wife Laurie (?) also put in an appearance and gave us a big wave across the world.

Tonight went for a meal (the usual tapas and beers) with Saras and Mercy, all of us with lots to share. Felt immediately better.

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