I went to the literature festival with some of my Oldbury Writing Group pals (Angela, Andy, Heather, Daniel and new member Tania). Together we made our way to the Real Life Stories event, which was taking place in the Wolverhampton Art Gallery. We arrived in plenty of time, allowing us the opportunity to explore our surroundings and for my nerves to build. I was impressed by the number of people who had attended the festival. It’s lovely to see so many writers together.
The Real Life Stories project is something members of many writing groups around the Black Country were invited to take part in late last year. Louise Palfreyman is the organiser of the project, which is run by Living Memory and the Black Country Arts Foundry. The goal of the project was for writers to write real-life stories based on their personal photographs.
Even though I wasn’t sure I would have the time to write a story for the project, I knew it was a good opportunity, so I made the time to complete the story. And, I’m glad I did.
The time for the event had arrived, and we all sat down in the Contemporary Room waiting for the event to start. I was third on the performer list, which gave me plenty of time for fear to take over. I was a little nervous the week prior to my performance, but as the time drew closer to my turn, I was one step from running away. But, my challenge this year is to feel the fear and do it anyway, so running away wasn’t an option. I think what increased my fear further was the number of people in the audience — it might possibly be the biggest audience I’ve ever read my work out to.
All the performers were brilliant. I really enjoyed their stories but seeing them do so well only increased my nerves even more. Could I do it? I asked myself. Could I stand up in front of all these people and read out my story in a clear and calm way. Well, the answer was yes.
So, up I went, body trembling like I’ve been standing outside in the cold for hours with no clothes on (I hadn’t. I was suitably dressed). I glanced at the audience, and the urge to flee was strong, but I stood firm. I was going to feel the fear and do it anyway. I read out my story, making sure I looked at the audience and didn’t read as fast as Usain Bolt runs. I stumbled over a couple of words, but I did it, and I am proud of myself. It was so lovely to hear that round of applause — you can probably tell how chuffed I was in the video. Angela (our great leader) then ended the event with a talk about the benefits of joining a writing group — she’s a great example of how to feel the fear and do it anyway.
After the Real Life Stories event, some of us bought tickets for the ‘How to Find an Agent — with Anna Stephens and G X Todd’ event. I had previously been to an event with G X Todd (Dudley Library’s 2017 Writers Networking Morning), so I was looking forward to this event, especially as I will hopefully soon start looking for an agent. It gives me hope when I hear the stories of other authors, especially local authors, who have gone on to live the dream.
The event was informative, and I filled up many pages of my notebook with information and tips. I did find out that the average author earns £8,000 a year, which isn’t great, but it hasn’t stopped me from wanting to achieve my dream. I want people to read and love my books. I also want to sign people’s books with my pink ink pen. I even have pink ink too. I also found out that authors get paid more to do a series rather than a standalone, which has made me wonder if I should have started with my series first. However, it’s too late now. I’ve put four years into my novel, so I will be sticking with it.
As well as the events, we also got a photo with Ann Widdecombe. Can you believe it? And, I bought a copy of Defender by G X Todd, which she signed. You know, you never know what’s going to happen until it happens. Life is a funny thing.
I really enjoyed this year’s literature festival, even more than in the previous years. I can’t wait to see what the organisers will come up with next year. I would recommend this event to all writers. I wish I could have gone to more of the events, maybe next year.
Have you been to the Wolverhampton Literature Festival? Have you experienced nerves while reading out your work? If yes to any, feel free to comment below. I would love to hear about your experiences.
Keep writing, folks!
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Video music: Western Shores by Philipp Weigl