I've just returned from a whirl of thought, energy, education and creativity - the phenomenon that is the Winchester Writers' Conference.
It really did feel like a carousel of excitement and enthusiasm, as hundreds of aspiring writers rushed back and forth between seminars, lectures and so many other activities. An abiding memory will be sitting on the steps at the heart of the university, and watching people rush in all directions, a starburst of motion and colour, as they sought their next destinations.
I was teaching crime writing, and had a great time. I'd like to thank all those on my courses for being so keen, so creative, and for playing along with my strange way of doing things.
I can confess now that I threw things at you that I've never tried before - and some were very edgy indeed (I was actually nervous at a couple of points, in case you took umbrage!) But I did it because I thought you were up for it, and that it was worthwhile in getting to the soul of this writing business.
And as for the secrets game we played, I can reassure you now that your secrets are safe with me!
I came away with a sense of awe and wonder at the sheer amount of talent and energy on display - and that from writers who are, in the main, unpublished. I heard some wonderful ideas for books and stories, saw some excellent examples of the writing craft, and met people who made me think and smile in equal measure. It was a magnificent experience - thank you one and all, delegates and organisers.
I was so impressed with the conference that even a return to the student bedroom experience (width of bed - my backside plus a little margin for error, a plastic mattress, and shared showers and loos) made me feel nostalgic for the lost days of youth.
Here's to all those I met. I hope I managed to help you, just a little, upon your way, and wish you all the very best with your writing. And do keep in touch and let me know how it goes.
I love the teaching thing that I do, and when I hear about the success of someone who I may have helped, it can give me a warm glow for weeks.
(And don't forget the ten per cent cut of any future earnings. Did I omit to mention that bit?!)
Finally, as ever, a choice of one of my favourite songs to accompany this blog, and today I'm going for Bon Jovi's Keep the Faith. Because it's a reflection of how hard life can be when it's not running for you - and how often that can be the case for aspiring writers! - but also, critically, the importance of never giving up.
As I said when I ended my sessions at Winchester - just make sure you do Keep the Faith. Because from all that I've seen, I certainly have faith in you.