I'm just back from the great Winchester Writers' Festival, having had a terrific time, with an important lesson for writers everywhere.
The road to Success can be a long and testing one.
This handsome chap is Dave Evans, who was on my course when first I taught crime writing at Winchester, four years ago.
We've always kept in touch, and - as Dave would tell you - there have been difficult moments. He's sometimes wondered when his break would come, known painfully well those dark days of loss of belief and confidence, but...
Dave kept going. He never stopped writing, believing, and trying.
And come this year's festival...
Dave was sporting a three book deal from a publisher, agents galore wanting to sign him up, and not content with that he won a prize in a competition as well.
To those who didn't know his backstory, it might have seemed like instant Success. But he'd walked the long road, and huge respect (and congratulations) to Dave for that.
At a different junction on the road is Rebecca Tinnelly. She joined my novel writing group a year ago when - as she might tell you - she wasn't perhaps hugely confident in her own ablities.
So witness her performance at this year's open mic night, reading her own work, with all the power and poise of an established actress.
Last year, Rebecca wasn't quite sure where her novel was going. But she's walked the road these past twelve months, spending many long hours revising, re-working, honing and improving it...
And come Winchester, she's got agents wanting to see it.
This, for me, is the spiritual heart of Winchester - the plaza where everyone (and that's published writers, aspiring authors, agents, staff, and all) come together to talk about their shared passion.
And for each and every one, and all those writers who weren't with us for the wonderful weekend that is Winchester, they've got their own road to walk.
It can be long and hard. But we can take comfort in knowing what's at the end of it.