The post-Winchester blues have truly set in…but with a slight difference this year.
Last June, after my first attendance at the festival, I felt really sad for a few days that it was over, that I was no longer surrounded by all those wonderful writers, teachers, agents, friends. Mainly, it had to be said, because I didn’t know at that time what my future would hold.
This year my blueness is tinted by nostalgia rather than uncertainty. It was brilliant, it was great fun, it was scary at times, thrilling at others, with the odd injection of pure, unadulterated jubilation (there are agents who want to read my work, my full MS!!!!)
Wow, what a weekend.
But there is one lesson that has resonated more than any other this year.
Gill McLay gave a brilliant talk on the publishing industry. She also gave the budding writers in the room a very wise and poignant piece of advice: enjoy every step of your journey, taking time to appreciate your achievement.
I have lost count of the times when, urged by my husband to celebrate the latest big step in my writing journey (submitting my manuscript to agents, for example, or the completion of my tenth rewrite) I have said no, hold back, keep that champagne on ice. I’ll celebrate the next big step, I would say, or I’ll celebrate once an agent has requested the full manuscript, or once I have signed to an agency. I have held back, and not taken the time to appreciate how hard I have worked and the achievement I have made.
It’s not just that I worry about tempting fate by celebrating too early (which I do) or that the celebration will be followed by disappointment (which I also worry about) but more so that, if I take time to really contemplate what I have done it will be too much, too emotional to cope with.
Three years ago, after the somewhat traumatic birth of my beautiful boy Ruadhan, I had a difficult time. To cut a long story short, my confidence plummeted and I found talking to anyone outside of my immediate family almost impossible. To think that, three years on, I would have the confidence not only to write a book, but to let others read that book and even stand up, alone and quite frankly terrified, in front of a room full of strangers and read a section of my work aloud is utterly utterly incredible.
Many people have helped me on that journey, most of whom have been completely oblivious to the wonderful impact they have had (a certain mentor is very high on that list.)
This may go some way to explain why, when I finally reached home after a long drive yesterday to my children and husband, who smothered me with kisses, hugs, popped champagne and told me how proud they all were of me, I promptly burst into tears.
And then, when the tears had dried, I bloody well celebrated.