Behind My Filters at YALC

I’ve been looking forward to YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention) ever since last year when I was scrolling through pictures online and feeling as though I was missing out. As the months ticked by I got even more excited to see my writer friends in their natural habitats. But it arrived with a bittersweet feeling. Last year I was being mentored and was sure by the 2019 YALC I’d have an agent and a book deal. I’d be a proper writer.

I spent the day before attending YALC watching everyone’s social media feeds and saw they were having a fabulous time. Insert my brain then telling me there’s no point in me even going, no-one would notice if I didn’t, and that no-one really wanted me there anyway. I was the unwanted tag along. Here’s the thing: You can be lined up to have the best day but mental illness doesn’t just take the day off because you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself. I recently read All the Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman and she refers to the voice in your head, whispering mean thoughts, as the chaos. My chaos had a lot to say on Friday. Possibly because I’d stayed up until midnight making banana breads and got up at five…

Regardless, Saturday morning arrived and I battled through the mind-fog, the torrential rain, the sleep deprivation (because staying in a university hall on a Friday night was not a fabulous money saving idea) and made it to my first day of YALC.

The first things I noticed:

  1. It really wasn’t as hot in the convention centre as everyone said it’d be.
  2. Jason Momoa was definitely doing it deliberately.
  3. It’s difficult to be at an event so many people are excited to be attending when you’re walking through a fog unable to truly feel or interact with any of it.

For at least the first few hours my thoughts were on a constant loop of I shouldn’t be here, no-one wants me to be here, they’d all be way happier if I wasn’t here

Such fun!

I have amazing friends. That should be noted straight away. Despite my own constant feelings of failure, feeling as though I’m not enough, I know they don’t feel like that. I know they enjoy my company even when my thoughts try to tell me otherwise. It’s also one of the most joyful things to see your friends succeed. To see their signing lines, panels, and published novels on a shelf. To see other people excited to meet them and get their books signed. It truly is beautiful. One can feel sad about not being successful without once feeling jealous of the fabulous women who are. Trust me, the idea that women are in constant bitter competition is a fucking myth.

Other fabulous parts of my London weekend included:

  1. Introducing myself to literary agents in person.
  2. Finally pitching to an agent face to face and not stuttering myself into a sweaty corner.
  3. A lot of people complimenting my skirt and the joy of being able to tell them I freaking made it.
  4. Meeting Paperbacks and Pinot for the first time after three years of friendship!
  5. Books…lots and lots of books.

Overall, it really was a good weekend, and I know the pictures I shared definitely will have been looked at by at least one person who ended up feeling bummed out that they weren’t able to attend YALC. But, honestly, after keeping my extrovert mask firm, and battling that persistent fog all weekend, it left me abso-bloody-lutely EXHAUSTED. A point of exhaustion where I barely even made it to the train station. I ended up slumped in Hyde Park for twenty minutes before I had the mental and physical strength to walk the last twenty minutes to Paddington.

My point being, on paper and in pictures on social media, my weekend was glorious. And it really was good, don’t get me wrong, but in my head I was fighting through a lot of fog. It’s the perfect example of the entire reason for making this blog. We can all appear to have our shit together in pictures. In reality, however, you never know when someone’s falling apart.

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