I wake at 6:30 to the gentle sounds of Freya, still at it, and there’s a crick in my neck that I know is going to be with me for days. 
I can’t remember how much sleep I’ve had but my brain and my body are insisting that it wasn’t enough.
I eat two sour worms which are delicious, even though it isn’t yet 7am and part of me knows I shouldn’t be eating sour worms. Then I make a cup of tea, open all the curtains and paint my nails for the ball tonight. Once people slowly rise from the floor of The Elderly Citizens Club, we eat breakfast and talk in hushed tones. We do yoga and everyone groans and complains but it makes us feel a little more awake before we head out into the sunshine.
I spend my morning in the Press Room, writing yesterday’s blog. That’s a terribly boring (or meta??) thing to blog about but that’s what happened. Sitting around the table writing blogs, editing photos and fine tuning audio, we talk about life and TiNA. Religion and parenting. I don’t get to catch any panels all day but our informal discussions make up for that a little.
I argue with myself about missing events to go home for a break. But ultimately I’m still wearing yesterday’s clothes and Chad  (Festival Manager) was quite insistent about the OH&S value of my having a post-sleepover nap. Home wins out and I surrender to not seeing many official events today.
The first thing I get to is Literary Trivia. My team, who met each other in the pub before last year’s trivia, reunite to defend our title. We do pretty well, coming fourth and passing on our crown with only a small amount of bitterness. We vow to rendezvous in 2014 and do it all again. There’s a very special  between us all now, based on our complimentary collections of random knowledge.
Meeting people at NYWF is a multifaceted thing. So often you’ll get to know someone quite well without ever catching their name. You’ll meet, months later, at another event, in a different city and they’ll be a moment when you’ll squint at each other awkwardly and say “I think we talked at TiNA…”
The ball tends to be the main source of these kinds of meetings. This year, under the night sky and fairy lights at the Terrace Bar I encounter a dozen people whose names I won’t remember in the morning. My voice gets hoarse from yelling over the music and I wonder if all this talking now will be at the expense of my ability to talk tomorrow.
When I can’t talk any more there is dancing. In the dark and smoke and laser lights I have a moment of overwhelming happiness. There’s no real reason for this surge of endorphins. I’m just happy to be here, with these people, dancing.
I know I said I wanted to find new moments this year but there is always room for old ones too. When the bar closes we join a sprawling group traipsing up Hunter Street in the direction of pies. There is a pleasant sense of déjà vu and we talk about the last time we made this journey, after another ball on another year. The expedition to the pie truck is gruelling. There are many obstacles and we lose many people along the way.
NYWF isn’t real life. Eating pies at 1am while wearing a sequin dress might be something that people do all the time but for me this is an annual opportunity. We sit around the tiny wooden table, taking about equality while a drunk man nearby sings a song of his own invention about a penis that has mustard on it.
I allow myself to get lost in another old moment: the realisation that all this will be over soon. Soon the dam will break and real life will come rushing back in. But for now we can hold the water back just a little longer, eating pies on the foreshore in the early hours on Sunday morning.

Thanks to Alan Weedon for his amazing photos. 
This weekend I’m blogging during National Young Writer’s Festival as a part of The Press Room. For more great content from the festival, including heads more photos, head over to the site.

Further reading

December – home

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