It was a dark and stormy night. (well, it was!) Thank goodness the air conditioner was working in the car because it was a bl**dy cold night as well. We found ourselves in another suburb, in the dull half-light of shadowed buildings, rattling on the huge glass doors. They were locked. We were only thirty minutes early. Traffic had been surprisingly swift for such ratty weather.
After negotiating the door situation I managed to gain entry; it would take me a while longer to thaw out now I was out of the night chill. There was a sea of faces with small cliques of friends and colleagues chatting away excitedly. I took option #1 (which successfully got me through most of University) and claimed a seat in the back row.
It was my very first venture into a Writers’ Festival. I have never attended any writers gathering and I had absolutely no idea what to expect of it. As one of the short story competition entrants, I had been invited to attend the opening ceremony for the Salisbury Writers’ Festival. Here I was; didn’t know a soul. Thank goodness I had my husband for moral support as I am not adept at mingling in a crowd of unknown faces.
The event was officially opened by the local Mayor who was keen on fostering writers (good woman) The Guest Speaker was Dylan Coleman, author of Mazin’ Grace based on stories from her mother’s childhood growing up on an Aboriginal Mission in the 1950s. The second anthology of Write Now was launched; a collection of local youth’s photographs and stories. This is sponsored by the Adelaide University and can be found online.
Finally the comments from the judges on the poetry and short story competition were read out. I found it heartening that it seems there were a lot of speculative fiction stories (they mentioned vampires, werewolves and Darth Vader) amongst the 140 entries. Whenever I enter an open themed competition and send in a speculative fiction story, I still wonder if the judges will dismiss it as not serious and it will put me a a disadvantage. I need not have worried.
Scarily, the theme description of the winning stories sounded like my story and, for just a second, my heart skipped a beat. Not because I thought I had won (I knew I had not won as I had not been contacted prior to the event) but because I really did not want to stand up in front of a room full of strangers if they were talking about my story. They weren’t.
Then the most dreaded part of the night- hobnobbing. Originally I had decided to attend, as I was hoping to get to meet other writers. I am more of an introvert than I care to admit and I find mingling with strangers the most terrifying prospect. Every now and then I force myself to (try) to meet new people. I must also admit that I failed. Everyone seemed quite happy to chat amongst themselves. Who am I to annoy them?
All was not lost however. While hovering over the extensive (and quite tasty) buffet, we ran into some old friends of ours. I had no idea they were into writing nor that Christine was studying Creative Writing. So in the end the evening was a success, even if I cheated and hobnobbed with old friends.
Hobnobbing... or not.