(sod off and let me sleep)
For me the Edinburgh International Book Festival is of particular significence because I often find it so hard to travel, in fact it's been impossible to get further than Fife recently, and most weeks Edinburgh itself is largely implausable. This means I can't go to far-off locations. Something as exotic as Australia will have to wait until I'm (in)famous enough to entice a volunteer. But once a year, the literature industry from all round the world comes to my city. I'm not saying I put myself under pressure to make the most of this brief but glorious opportunity, but...
Two weeks later I'm still I'm still recovering. Words are not flowing quite as coherently as usual. I suspect there may never be much of a personal diary of the festival from me as so much of it is a blurred memory of excitement, familiar faces, familiar voices, lovely audiences of fellow word-addicts, blue lanyards bearing famous names, green lanyards bearing unexpected names, astonishing talent, creative inspiration, the most friendly and reassuring staff I've ever met, exciting publishing contacts (all fingers are crossed) and utter exhaustion, plus of course, those exquisite little strawberry cakes. I don't know who catered the events but WOW.
I was part of 'Electric Lit Orchestra', Writers' Bloc's Unbound night in the EIBF Spiegeltent, my own performance a duet with the cellist Lindsay Martindale, who did a wonderful job of musically illustrating the story. We all had a fantastic time, and were relieved to hear that the audience and staff enjoyed the night too. For a list of performances, writers and musicians, check out http://www.writers-blog.org.uk/
Then I sketched.
One of my favourite pastimes is life drawing. The (human, clothes optional) model sits very still and I can lose myself in mark making. I know, I thought, I haven't done any life drawing for ages, I should make the most of these freerange inadvertant models and sketch in the yurt. Oh yes.
Well, I soon learned that drawing people sitting around in the yurt may sound similar to life drawing, but it's the opposite. Ok, I was resigned to them having clothes on, but as for the poses, well, nothing in there stops moving, not for a second. People are talking, eating, rehearsing, juggling business cards, making faces while they read, gesticulating wildly or just twitching nervously. Trying to keep up with a pen produces a fairly inky page.
On the next and final day, planet EIBF excelled itself. That wee black sketchbook is a wondrous catalyst. I managed to get my wheels up onto the outdoor author area (I want to be an outdoor author when I grow up) to sketch Alasdair Gray while he sketched Will Self. I think you will all understand that under those circumstances I kept forgetting to actually draw.
From there, joining the cast of Fleck to sketch them as they rehearsed in the scarlet innards of the Writers' Retreat, then more sketching them on stage in the main theatre, seemed to be something verging on reality.
I wasn't well enough to attend much of the book festival, but when I was there I think I made the most of it. I don't want to start on anecdotes and lists of the infamous writers with whom I had conversations and surreal interactions, or try to describe the strange happenings (yet). It's still swirling around in my head (and my eyeballs are still revolving from Chris Close's visible-from-Mars camera flash when he did my portrait). I would like to thank the wonderful yurt elves, in fact all of the festival staff, who were always cheery and welcoming.
I should also apologise to some bruised toes because I really want to be allowed back in next year. Speaking of toes, here are some Fleck feet. Can you tell who it is yet?
With thanks to Chrisdonia, EIBF literary paparazzo, for his perky company during the festival, and now for allowing me to link to his photos on Flickr.