Clammy palms, heart dancing a fox trot, knocking knees. The questions: Will I make a fool of myself? Will I end up standing alone in the corner? Will they want to talk to me?
Classic first date nerves, right?
I have been to half a dozen writing festivals as an author and experienced all of the above symptoms before I even stepped through the door!
No matter what anybody tells you, it does not get easier with practice (again, similar to dating).
Knowing this, I prepared myself for my attendance at this year's WriteFest, held annually in Bundaberg, Australia, the same way I would for a date: by pasting on a confident smile and faking it.
As I took my initial step into the building, I held my breath. It released with a rush of relief when I was greeted with a warm smile and welcoming wave by an acquaintance, fellow author Shelley Russell Nolan.
I couldn't help making the connection to first dates, when the man I was meeting had reacted the same way. It felt even more like dating once the awkward small talk and "getting to know you" was out of the way, and I realized I was having fun.
The festival progressed with a variety of guest speakers and presenters.
First up was fellow romance author, Shannon Curtis. Her talk focused on plot development and novel structure. I found her guidelines to be applicable and useful to aspiring, emerging and established authors.
During the lunch break, I spoke with a number of people I'd met at previous writing festivals as well as some new faces. The most memorable was a member of the Bundaberg Writer's Group. I've chosen to keep her name anonymous for her privacy. She wished to discuss my debut novel, See Her Run. A story with strong domestic violence themes. She told me she was aware of my history as a survivor of domestic violence and shared her own tale.
I was also asked to jump into a photo with Bundaberg Regional Councillor, Lynne Forgan!
After lunch, I met and chatted with the talented and approachable Graeme Simsion (author of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect). His talk on screenwriting for authors was not only informative, but relevant to the writing process. It made me see novel writing in a new and interesting way.
Overall, my experience at WriteFest 2015 was a heady mixture of nerve-wracking, exciting and fun. The way any good date should be.
*Click on the links below for more information on:
Shelley Russell Nolan
Bundaberg Writer's Group
Bundaberg Regional Council
About A.K. Leigh
A.K. Leigh is an international-selling romance author, identical triplet, book lover, incurable romantic, love guru, star-gazer, sometimes blogger and vlogger, mystic, ex-astrologer, vegetarian/vegan, nature lover, Michael Jackson fan, MMA buff, martial arts movie watcher, and trauma survivor.