Friday, July 31, 2009

Is that it then?

It was the Harrogate Crime Writers Festival last week. Or the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate to give it it's more official name. For a very long time leading up to it, I was in two minds as to whether to go or not - my writing's pretty much stalled and I find myself agentless right now, which doesn't help. Also despite being about to inherit a sizeable sum, I am at the moment as skint as a skint person, having been out of paying work for almost six months.

So I moped around, dithering about going, not going, quite unable to make up my mind. Finally the Horse Doctor, who is much wiser than me, told me to stop pissing about and go. So I went.

And it was very quiet, to be honest.

Apparently it was the busiest festival yet, with over 9000 tickets sold (I suspect most of them to the Wire and Lee Child sessions). But looking back after the fact, all I can think is just how little seemed to happen.

Yes, it was great to catch up with old friends, meet a few new ones, and talk about crime writing stuff. I enjoyed the panels I attended; enjoyed the hours spent in the bar and various Harrogate eateries even more. I had useful chats with several very helpful people, received plenty of conflicting advice, which is always good, and even managed to stay in the bar until half five on Saturday morning in earnest discussion with a girl whose name now eludes me but who will probably be very famous in a year or two. But all of this was done in a very restrained manner. All very polite.

More than anything else, it seemed to me there was nothing new. This was my fourth Harrogate, and perhaps it's not surprising if the same faces turn up time and time again; the same or similar panels repeated. If the numbers are anything to go by, it ain't broke, so why try to fix it? But there's always the worry that it will turn into something of a clique - the Harrogate set.

Perhaps it's just me. Without wanting to sound too self-pitying and miserable, I've not really had a great deal of enthusiasm for anything of late - writing, renovating houses, looking for work, getting up in the morning. There's a whole load of 'can't be bothered' going on in my head right now which readers of this irregular drivel might have noticed. The old Black Dog seems to have snuck up on me in a way it's not done since I was a lot younger. At least I've recognised it, which puts me on the way to doing something about it. Just as soon as I can be bothered.

Things will look up soon, I'm sure. I am at least in theory writing a new novel, completely different to anything I've done before. There are notes on my whiteboard and scribblings in my notebooks. Now all I've got to do is get that first chapter finished. And then the next one. And the one after that.

And I've always got next year's Harrogate to look forward to. If they'll let me come.

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