The Best Is Yet To Come!
Here in the United States we just finished our Thanksgiving holiday and now we’re fully engaged in Christmas preparations. But I wanted to take a minute to talk about something I was thankful for this year and something I’ll be looking forward to in 2020.
This past month it was my privilege to attend the first ever Jane Austen Fan Fiction Writer-Reader Get Together in Washington D.C. The JAFF Get Together was a time for writers and readers to meet in person, to get to know each other, and to talk about Jane Austen fan fiction to our hearts’ content. What a weekend! What an event! And what a gathering to look forward to next year!!! In no particular order, here were some of my favorite things about this gathering:
- The attendees- We had a diverse group of people covering all ends of the Jane Austen fan fiction spectrum—and then some! Our youngest attendee was only two months old. As for our oldest, well, nobody was willing to admit to winning that title! Many attendees came from the DC area, but there were a number of guests who drove for hours or even had to fly in. The person who probably won the long distance prize was our very own Don Jacobson, who traveled all the way from Las Vegas for this event! Way to go, Don!
- The venue – Most of us stayed at the Tyson’s Corner Marriott in DC and some of the events were held there too. There was plenty of room for everybody and the staff could not have been more accommodating! The other site, where most of our events were held, was the St. Thomas Episcopalian Church just a few minutes’ drive away from the hotel. It had a cozy, intimate feel that worked well with the tone of the gathering.
- It was especially thrilling to get to meet other JAFF writers, including some of my fellow Austen Authors! Victoria Kincaid and I had met once previously, but this was my first face to face with Bronwen Chisholm, Summer Hanford, Don Jacobson, and Sophie Turner. We had some amazing conversations!
- Did I mention meeting all the readers? Oh, my, the sweet, exuberant readers who were SO enthusiastic about Jane Austen and JAFF! I was blown away by how they were so willing, even eager, to take an entire weekend out of their busy lives just to talk about the Jane Austen literary world. There was non stop discussion and laughter the whole time!
- And the FOOD! Wow, was there food! I think everyone’s favorite had to be the formal tea we shared on Saturday evening, complete with white tablecloths and ornate teacups.
- I am not normally a tea drinker but after hearing the description of several of the teas being served I just had to try one. After that I could not stop myself! To go along with the tea we had a variety of small sandwiches, other finger foods, and scrumptious little desserts. The food was terrific all weekend but this was definitely the culinary highlight of the event for me.
Throughout the weekend we had a variety of speakers and multiple discussion groups going on. Abigail Reynolds was the keynote speaker, and she talked about a number of subjects: the history of JAFF and where it may be headed, plot points you may not have recognized in Pride & Prejudice, theories behind key events in the story, and much more. Other speakers (too many to mention!) led discussions about JAFF blogs, what kinds of JAFF stories readers like the most, and why we only see fan fiction about Pride and Prejudice.
For example, why aren’t there more fan fiction stories based on Jane Austen’s other novels? And why isn’t there a body of fan fiction for other famous English writers? We traded opinions and theories endlessly. We didn’t always agree but it was always good fun!
Of particular interest was Don Jacobson’s presentation on male JAFF writers. Why aren’t there more men writing JAFF, and how can we get more men reading it? If you want you can see Don’s presentation here. http://jaffwriterreadergettogether.org/don-jacobsons-presentation/
A million thanks go to Victoria Kincaid and Summer Hanford for organizing this event! I cannot imagine the time and energy it took to come up with the idea, scheduling speakers, and putting all the details together. The whole weekend ran like a well-oiled machine. We even had wonderful little goody bags to go home with at the end of the weekend! There was never any down time, never a point where we could not find something to do. If anything we could have gone a few more hours! I arrived home on Sunday afternoon utterly exhausted but exhilarated. My new JAFF friends were definitely on my list of things to be thankful for in 2019.
I think anyone who was there will agree that the event was an unabashed success, and we have already made plans to do it again next year. (Same location, November 6th – 8th, 2020.) I hope everyone who reads this can come! Next year is bound to be even better. The best is truly yet to come!
Please take a moment to comment below and write what you would most like to see in a JAFF event.