Been there, listened to that, ate some cake.

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!

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Blending In

Its a year of first for me. First published story, first blog entry, first tweet…And this weekend my first Writing and Book Festival.

This one is perhaps the most frightening as I cannot do it remotely. I can’t attend via my comfy chair. I going to have to get on the train to Leicester and will be there *gulp* in person and flying solo.

I’m quite a jittery and nervous person as it is, but unknown venues and strange people terrify me. Fleeting thoughts of beta blockers and chamomile tea come and go. Socially these daunting things can be tempered with alcohol but I’m not going there on a whim. Its research and deep interest that force my finger to click confirm on the payment for the weekend ticket and that pay the exorbitant train fare. Turning up boozy would not be how I want to come across.

I distract myself with the question of what does one wear to these events? If I can worry about the minutia it will stop me fretting about the social faux pas I will no doubt perpetrate – if the past is anything to go by.

I want to look nice but not threatening, professional yet not corporate, interesting but not kooky. I opt for black and lots of it but with little make up. I look in the mirror and I’m a middle aged version of Neil Gaiman’s Death. I look alike a beige Goth with dark curly hair. I change, add a bit of colour and having heard that turquoise is disarming in interviews I decide to risk it.

I still feel like a fraud… like an imposter. Sod it I think and I set off. No going back now.