The Festival of Writing. Every year I wonder whether I should go and this year I wondered even more, because I didn't have anything I felt was 'ready' to take. Even on the way up to York, chatting away to my travel-buddy Imran (who you might remember designed the covers of Granny Rainbow and is in his own right, a fabulously enthusiastic author of several books), I didn't feel particularly excited.
As soon as I stepped through the doors of the Roger Kirk Centre and saw the first of many familiar faces, I started grinning: there was the wonderful Writer's Workshop team booking everyone in, 'leprecaun noir' author Paddy and Nick Sheridan, cloudie friends like Skylark, Raine, John and J.Net, the amazing Debi Alper, agents and authors... The tingle was most definitely back, and as the weekend went on, I was glad I'd decided to make this my fourth year.
Some of you reading this from here on in will wonder what the heck I'm on about, but those Who Were There will understand these snippets from the weekend - some more than others!
"A proper author has an agent." Sam Copeland (just imagine how that went down in an audience which included several successful self-published authors...)
"That shower curtain REALLY loves me!" J.S. Law
"Every writer is full of faith and full of doubt - and self-criticism" and "You become a new writer with every book you start." Nikki French duo, Sean French and Nicky Gerard
"Why, oh why, does the publishing industry treat me like a leopard?" Unknown disgruntled writer
"Readers are bloodhounds for truth and authenticity." Shelley Harris
"Today is Severus Snape Sunday. Because." Julie Cohen
"Success relies on talent, tenacity and timing." Diane Beaumont
"My kidneys are crying!" Competition winner, the morning after the champagne...
"I was woken by The Phantom Noseblower at 6am." Me. (I'd forgotten how thin the walls are in uni halls!)
"They've asked to see the full MS!" Heard from far too many folk to name you all individually. You know who you are, and I'm cheering you on.
I will blog more over the next few days - about the specific workshops, my 1-2-1 feedback, the gala dinner and keynote speakers - because every time I go to York, I learn something. I learn something about myself, about the craft, about the people I spend time with.
This year, I learnt that I still have some fundamental flaws in my approach to storytelling, that I have a recognisable writing style (hereafter to be referred to as Squidge-speak) and that it's more the structure than the voice which means I fail to capture that elusive 'wow' factor.
But that's what York does; it enables, encourages, challenges you to be the best writer you can be. Not necessarily 'best' as in the most successful or well-known - but the best YOU can be.
I'm still trying to be the best I can. I AM moving forwards but I haven't reached the finish line yet, where I can say (like one of the competition winners who'd had multiple MS requests) "I think I get it now...I know how all of this works." One day...