There is a huge international conference in children's literature in London these days. Once upon a time I would have been there. Once upon a time I went to anything that had to do with children's literature. Of course, in those days there were fewer choices. If you went to all children's literature conferences today you'd go twice a week all year round. There are at least two other major children's literature conferences on right now.
But all those years ago, there wasn't so much, and I went to a conference in Umeå (where I first met Aidan Chambers), and to many other events just to listen, and then to give papers, then invited to give talks. Eventually I started to notice the difference between academic and non-academic conferences and book festivals and reading-promotion events and library workshops. It was great fun to visit all of these, but you can't attend everything, and you start to focus. IBBY- type conferences are the first to dismiss if you are an academic, because they are about writers and publishers and reading. It's tremendously important, but it is something different from what I do. If I had more time... but I don't. I may have mentioned this already: people often ask me whether I go Bologna Children's Book Fair every year and get disappointed when I admit that I have never been to Bologna and have no intention to go there. Book fairs are about books. I am not particularly interested in books. (I am still less interested in children).
IBBY congress in London is about books, reading, writing, writers, illustrators, publishers, editors, translators, librarians - all wonderful people without whom my profession would not exist. But I am not directly engaged in any of their activities. I like to meet writers and listen to them every now and then, bit it is not essential for my work. These days, I am sorry to confess, I don't even have to have a physical copy of a book. I am perfectly happy to have an electronic version. I still love the touch of a real book, but it is separate from work. A simple pleasure. For work, I don't need to have met the author, the illustrator, the publisher, the translator. They have all done their job, and I am doing mine.
Maybe I am just funding lame excuses for not going in London.