I’ve definitely lost something at CrimeFest in Bristol. Was it a book? No, I’ve come back with the usual seven hundred. Was it my memory stick, onto which I’m supposed to be editing my WIP? No, they’d have to prise that from my cold dead hands (plus it didn’t get a lot of use). A cloth bag? No, I have at last count seventeen million of those. Oh wait, it was my liver. And several nights’ sleep.
CrimeFest, held annually in Bristol, does exactly what it says on the posters (to my knowledge they don’t have tins) – it’s a full-on fest of crime. Panels of writers speaking to fans, industry peeps, and other writers. There’s no elitism, everyone congregates in the bar, and everyone is incredibly friendly. I don’t know how the organisers make it such a relaxed event, but they do. You might easily find your revered favourite writer standing you a gin and tonic at the bar or sitting next to you at the dinner.
I arrived on Thursday, straight from my holidays in Germany, and was already feeling guilty about not getting much writing done while away. The trouble with being self-employed is you feel you should be working all the time. The flipside is of course you can take a day off whenever you want. I was very diligent on Thursday, catching up on work emails and editing for several hours. I went to panels, I took notes, I nodded seriously.
It all started to go wrong on Friday. In the style of a crime cover blurb: The naive young parvenu was drawn into a coterie of hard-drinking, fast-living crime writers. They wanted alcohol. They wanted fun. And they would stop at nothing to get it. (Not even the eye-watering bar prices). Now, they’re in a race against time across one hotel. Can they get trolleyed before the bar, or their liver, shuts down? Basically, everyone at these kinds of events is too nice and too much fun for anything useful to ever get done.
I’m going to have to find a way of coping with the not-working guilt of holidays. Do we need time to recalibrate our brains, let the big ideas sink in and forget the minutiae of our current projects? Do we need to step back and look at the wide panorama of our inner writing world? I did certainly get ideas, most too fuzzy and general to even be at the formulating stage, and now I’m ready to plunge back into edits and new writing. Right after I’ve recovered from this CrimeFest hangover, that is.
[I think this may be the best quote of the festival: ‘Oh look, (massively famous author) Simon Kernick’s forgotten his banana.’
‘Don’t worry, he emptied it first.’
If you think that’s one of those ‘had to be there’ ones, then the solution is simple – come next year!]