In the lines between spreadsheets

This is the second instalment in the August blog carnival. This week’s theme is – something that scares me. To join in, all you need to do is post a blog on that theme any time before next Sunday. Find out more here.
The thing that I’m afraid of isn’t easy to articulate in a single sentence. It isn’t easy to articulate at all. At the moment I spend a lot of time with the vague background hum of fear. It’s an excited kind of fear, a hopeful fear. It’s a good fear, I guess, in the scheme of things.
I’ve been going to the National Young Writers Festival for five years. Over the course of those five weekends, NYWF has been incredibly important in (corny as it is) making me the person I am today. So many things that are important to me (my relationship, as a random example) had their beginningsduring an NYWF. It’s hard to articulate just how much this festival means to me, just how much it has defined me.
It was probably three years ago that I decided I wanted to work for the festival. When I got the role of co-director at the beginning of this year, it was something I’d been working toward for years. It’s a dream job. I wanted the job so I could contribute something to this festival that has already given me so much. It’s a cliché but it’s true. I wanted to give something back.
After months and months of work we’re on the home stretch. As of last week, we’ve officially finished the draft program for this year’s festival. That’s such a simple thing but it’s so huge. That’s it. There’s no going back now. We’ve already decided what this festival will be. All the events are pencilled in. The artists are confirmed. It’s done.
The thing is that you reduce everything to words and spreadsheets. Every artist attending the festival this year currently exists in my brain as little more than a colour coded cell. We’re at the stage now where, if I concentrate, I can mentally scroll through those spreadsheets. Thinking in spreadsheets is a strange way to exist. When you’re so deep in the theory of it all, it become really hard to image the reality. But that reality is creeping up on us.
I am completely, utterly terrifiedof what people will think of our festival. Just as I’m excited to finally be able to show everyone what we’ve been working on I’m also scared shitless. I am terrified and thrilled in almost equal measure. In lots of ways, I know this fear is irrational. When I’m able to look at the whole thing objectively I know we’ve done a good job. In those strange moments of perspective – when I can step back from the stress and the confusion and the endless Skype calls – I can see that it’ll all be ok.
This isn’t a desperate plea for reassurance because my fear isn’t that we’ve done a bad job. To be honest, I’m not really worried that people will hate the program (it’s a damn good program) or that everything will fall apart. It’s a much more complicated fear than that.  
I’m not the only one who cares this much about NYWF. It’s a festival that matters an awful lot to an awful lot of people. Being an established and beloved part of the community is something of a double edged sword. It means you exist in comparisons. Every year, I sit in cafes and reminisce about other times, other NYWFs. In my mind every year has defining features. There’s the year when Writer Wants a Wife happened. The year Rosie could have died. There’s the year we played Never Have I Ever. The year I met Lizzy. The year I met Sian. The year I met Alex.  
This year will be something. It will have defining features. People will remember it, for one reason or another. I want people reminiscing in cafes in years to come to look back and say “That was a good year, wasn’t it?”
All the things that will be remembered about our program already exist, as shadows in the lines between spreadsheets.
NYWF has meant so muchto me. This year, I get to help create that, for other people. This year will be someone’s first NYWF. It will be someone’s last. People will make friends and kiss strangers and throw themselves into the sea baths in the middle of the night.
The responsibility of it all is what scares me. I want to honour all the things it’s been to me. I want our program to be worthy of all the things that have come before. I want to do this festival proud
Further Blog Carnival posts:
Hum Drum Plum – with a list.
Britt in Boots – COMING SOON.
Noni Doll – COMING SOON.
What I Think About Books – COMING SOON.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year