I woke up early Sunday morning. It promised to be a warm day, but the rapidly thickening clouds soon took care of that. I was pleased to discover upon waking that I still had all my valuables, and I was still whole and unharmed.
I dressed for the day before heading up to Tim Hortons for some breakfast. Not the healthiest, I know, but it was delicious. I ate breakfast in the motel room. It wasn't long before I was in a taxi, heading off to the beautiful grounds of Parkwood Estate.
I arrived about 45 minutes early and so decided to poke around the grounds a little. They were beautiful! When I say the grounds are beautiful, I mean absolutely gorgeous. The house was also stunning.
And strangely familiar....
It wasn't until I found this that I realised why it was so familiar:
Can you guess it?
Think Hugh Jackman.
Think Patrick Stewart.
Come on! It's easy! No? Alright, I'll tell you. Ahem....
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Xavier's School for the Gifted. That's right people, this was the mansion that served as Professor X's school in the X-Men movies. You remember the running race the kids were having across the water. That photo above, that was the pool they were racing over. Needless to say, the geek in me was very, very happy!
Then it was time for the festival to commence. The festival itself was very small. I understand from some of the readers that it was not advertised much at all, which they were very disappointed about. I found it charming, really. The small size of the festival meant that everyone was there to sell, and no one had come to buy. For the most part the participants were local poets.
In the morning, hardly anyone was there. All the same, it was a delight to sit and listen to the poets read. I managed to get a special mention that morning without even trying. A poet had approached my as I was sitting in the audience before the event started. I was one of three people sitting at the time, and an idea had hit me regarding a short story I'd been struggling with. She asked me if I was writing. I said I was. She then repeated the story, saying I had inspired her to write as well, and she read the poem she had just written that morning. I was flattered, but at the same time, wanted to slink away and hide when she pointed me out.
After a short break there was a lecture entitled 'So You Want To Be Published.' It was a good lecture for those just starting out, but if you've done your research there was no new information there. Then it was my turn to speak. The M.C. called my name (and even pronounced it correctly - I was impressed) and I stood. He did have much to say about me except that I had lived in The Philippines during an exciting time and he asked I speak a little about that.
In my head I swore profusely. I had planned my speech, and I had timed it, and if I talked about The Philippines, I'd go well and truly over time. I mumbled something briefly about not remembering much from The Philippines except the drill we had for whenever we heard a helicopter.
Then I started to read.
I was so terrified that I was shaking like a leaf in the winter wind. It must have looked like I had a nervous disorder as I turned the pages and they fluttered about like sheets on a line. I could hear my voice shake. It was horrifying.
I did go overtime, I think, by roughly 20 seconds or so. I blame The Philippines. I managed to get a collective gasp when I read the last line, which was good. I hurriedly muttered 'Thank-you' when I finished and practically tripped over myself to get away from the podium.
I was later told that I read very well, if a little quietly.
I stayed for the rest of the readers. There was one woman who was a professional story-teller. She was incredible. She used props to tell her story, and it was an incredibly enjoyable performance.
The props for the story-teller's performance. It was a great performance.
The romantic in me flitted to a past where story-telling was the television of its time - the primary source of entertainment for the people gathered to listen. Part of me wanted to go there. Then the other part said 'no plumbing' and I was content to be here instead.
The festival ended at 4:30 or so. By then most everyone had packed up. I grabbed my luggage and trundled off to find food. I had not passed a single business card out. However, I did meet wonderful people (on of my favourites was a poet called Merle ... I can't remember her last name. She was wonderfully humorous and very open and kind).
The train left at 7:11pm, and I was home minute before midnight. The cats were very glad to see someone, though Persephone kept looking startled every time I moved. I think she wasn't quite used to someone being home for any length of time. That night, she slept by my head, with her paw resting gently on the back of my hand.
I was glad to be home.
It was a great experience for me, even if just to know what it's like to be up in front of an audience again (read here: terrifying). Would I do it again? Financially, it's difficult to justify. If I ever publish, I think I might go back though.