The Leicester Alt fiction festival was great. I only attended the Saturday (due to horrid cold that sprang up Sat pm) but really loved it. I think I left Sheffield full of nerves, not knowing what to expect but found the festival informative and encouraging.
I was not the only person flying solo, plenty of people had turned up in cliques but there were those like me that had come with only their nerves, courage and enthusiasm.
What surprised me most (and this probably says a lot about me and how new I am to writing) was how relaxed and easy the atmosphere was. No one stood and shouted “Imposter!! Fraud!” when I walked in, and not only that – there were reassuring words – if you write then you are a writer whether you have published a novel or not.
For the first time I started to feel that maybe that’s what I was. What I am. It’s not something I will one day, maybe, if I work hard, if I’m very lucky…become.
It’s hard to explain lucidly and it’s a concept that I’ve only really analysed with people on my creative writing course. I feel self-conscious writing it.. but here goes… It’s the feeling that you can’t admit that you ‘write’, that you are a writer, to people not in a similar position, to non ‘writing’ civilians. Instead we say it’s a hobby; “something I like to mess around with”, casually. Something to not invoke their ridicule and not convince them that you have delusions of grandeur. You don’t want to be viewed as one of the X factor hopefuls whose family and friends have told them kindly that they have a lovely voice when in fact the truth is not so – they sound like a cat grated.
Being at the festival was quite liberating. No I’m not published but there is no shame in writing. And even if there was it’s not something i can help. I walk, skip and run through my life and everything i see makes me think “What if….”.What if there were dragons? What if I died but stayed around as a ghost able to see what happened next? What if my two best friends got back together against the odds? What if a modern-day Medusa infested a fitness centre? What if my neighbour was a serial killer?Everywhere there is a story. I write them for my self to just express what whirls through my mind. Most will not ever be seen by another but some may.
As well as the inspiration the festival had lots of practical advice on writing, researching and publishing work. It also had something I really valued – input from actual published novelists – the good stories and the hard to hear stories.
All in all so good its in my diary for next year already. In pen!