Writing in hotels during writers festivals
Writers Festivals are curious gatherings, temporary communities of authors that come together for a few days, perhaps a week at most, and then spin off into the ether until the next time. If you have been published for long enough, and have been going to festivals for a while, then inevitably you meet many of the same people every second, third or tenth festival. Thus there are often conversations like "Oh, hello, haven't seen you since Edinburgh, was it three . . . no must have been four years ago . . ." going on all around the hotel lobby on the first day.
Of course, when you start out as a writer, you rarely get invited to any festivals. I certainly didn't, for quite a few years. Then a few invitations came, and I must have performed reasonably well (for all the festival directors talk to each other) and then a few more, and then about ten years into my career as a published writer, the invitations started to come with great regularity and have continued, at least up to the present.
One common theme of writers festivals is that invariably most of the writers have writing work they need to do, in between events. On the shuttle bus to the hotel from the festival location, when you ask your neighbour in the next seat what they are up to next, the answer is very often "Got to go back to my room and write."
This Perth festival, I have been one of those authors, and have spent quite a bit of time retiring to my room to work on various things. One of them was correcting the page proofs for my Old Kingdom story "To Hold the Bridge", which will appear in (title may vary) LEGENDS OF AUSTRALIAN FANTASY edited by Jonathan Strahan and Jack Dann, which is out in June 2010.
Here is the beginning of that story:
Morghan stood under the arch of the aqueduct and watched the main gate of the Bridge Company’s legation, across the way. The tall, twin leaves of the gate were open, so he could see into the courtyard, and the front of the grand house beyond. There was great bustle and activity going on, with nine long wagons being loaded, and a tenth having a new iron-bound wheel shipped. People were dashing about in all directions, panting as they wheeled laden wheelbarrows, singing as they rolled barrels, and arguing over the order in which to load all manner of boxes, bales, sacks, chests, hides, tents and even a very large and over-stuffed chair of mahogany and scarlet cloth that was being carefully strapped atop one of the wagons and covered with a purpose-made canvas hood.
The name of the company was carved into the stone above the gate: ‘The Worshipful Company of the Greenwash & Field Market Bridge’. That same name was written on the outside of the old and many-times folded paper that Morghan held in his hand. The paper, like the company, was much older than the young man. He had seen only twenty years, but the paper was a share certificate in an enterprise that had been founded in his great-grandfather’s time, some eighty-seven years ago.