I woke-up early, went for a swim, had a cooked breakfast in the hotel, then headed down to the Pitlochry Festival. I didn’t realise how far north Pitlochry is (my Scottish geography is nearly nonexistent); it snowed on and off all day and the ground was mostly sheets of ice. Walking over to the Festival in little ballet pumps must have been hilarious to anyone watching. At one point I was scrunched down half way to the ground, knees bent, touching my finger tips to the ground as balance as I tried to make it up a hill. Not pretty, but I made it.
I am so happy I went in for the early event at the Festival. There was some sort of week long creative writing class that had been occurring, and this morning all the students read a short story that they wrote during the class. They were so good. It was eight women, and each of them read so beautifully. The stories were all very different and individual, but they were complete short stories, not chapters, or half novels, and all of the women sounded like they’d been writing for ages.
My favourite was about a public school Matron who found out she had breast cancer. It was written by a woman named Margo (I so wish I’d been taking notes because I can’t remember her last name.), and I won’t tell you any more about the story, because it is so clever and witty I don’t want anyone to steel her idea. The last story to be read was about a family who burned in a fire, and no lie every single person in the room was in floods of tears.
I overheard the women talking, and they were said they wrote their stories over the course of two days. I can’t believe they wrote those pieces in just two days, and some of them had never written before! I’m seriously thinking about taking a creative writing class.
After the New Writing group reading, I went and saw these two lawyers talk about their book Scots Law Tales – a really interesting sounding book about law stories, such as a bunch of kids getting taken by social services in Orkney and a woman finding a slug in a soda bottle. Okay, when I put it that way, it sounds like a weird and boring book, but the lawyers made it sound really good.
Next I grabbed some lunch. The Festival Theatre, where the event is held, has expansive floor to ceiling windows that reach several stories high and look out over the mountains. It was snowy and misty all day, which sounds really rubbish but instead it was incredibly atmospheric. I felt remote and a part of the readings, I felt immersed in the atmosphere of the Scottish literary scene. Yes, the ‘new adult’ me is also a ‘new cheesy adult’ me.
It was also time to network, and I was nervous as hell. I didn’t want to just go wandering up to someone and say, ‘Hey will you pay for our authors to come here next year so we don’t have to. Oh, and by the way, any jobs going?’
There was this woman who seemed to be everywhere, introducing everyone, doing everything, so I figured…hey, she looks like a good starting point. She said she was only a helper, but she took my info and said she’d put me in contact with the event organisers. She seemed so fun and enthusiastic, and it looked like she loves her job. I can only hope that one day I enjoy my job as much as she seems to enjoy hers.
I stuck around for a while longer, and I saw a couple of publishers and an agent. I recognised the agent because she’s been in our office, and the girl I talked to pointed out the publishers. I really wanted to introduce myself, but I was so nervous. I started with the agent, reminded her that we’d met in the MNM office, and tried to initiate some small talk. She was really quite nice, but someone came up to us shortly after I said ‘Hello’, and she had to excuse herself. I turned to see if I could find the publishers, but they’d disappeared.
I stayed for the day and saw a talk about Scotland’s ghosts and also lecture by some guy from the BBC named Phil Cool. He’s supposed to be funny, but I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. The Festival had some sort of cancellation, so they replaced it with a ‘Poetry in Residence’ reading. This ‘Resident’ collected poems from the audience and read them, plus a few of the Festival workers read some of their favourite poems. It was kind of cool listening to all these different poems, but I could have done with out it.
I’m just now back in the Hotel. After trudging back up that big bloody icy hill in the rain, I certainly cannot be bothered to go back into town to get dinner. I’m thinking about having dinner in the Hotel, but it’s rather pricy, and I’d be shocked if MNM reimbursed me for anything.
Overall, it was a very good day. I was professional; I talked to people; I listened to some good speakers, but the best part was hearing work by new writers. I don’t care if I’ve got less than six months experience in publishing, I don’t care if I screw most things up, but as far as I’m concerned being a publishers is about finding new talent. I sincerely hope I come across these stories, perhaps in written form.