Another August, and now my third visit to the wonderfulness which is the Swanwick Writers’ School, in Derbyshire. Having successfully tackled replacement buses between Chesterfield and Derby, and joined the group gradually taking over Upper Crust in Derby Station’s lobby, I felt myself relax, and feel completely at home with both old friends and new as we caught up, met people for the first time, and generally got the Swanwick vibe going as we waited for our coach.
And what a vibe it was, for the 70th birthday of the School. We were fully intending to help it celebrate, and make it a good one!
To go through all the positive elements would take a week’s worth of posts, but suffice to say, I got something out of every single course I attended. This year, my plan was to make choices based on two things: 1) Getting plenty of tips and advice for my next WIP, and 2) Having plenty of fun. The next WIP I’m going to be working on is one I’ve not looked at since 2009, and it’s also the first project where I’m really having to focus on creating fictional people and places. So far, with the Kindred Spirits series, I’ve been using characters and locations which exist or existed, and I feel I’ve got off lightly in the creation stakes – not so in the next project!
It was great then, to be able to attend courses such as the A-Z of novel writing, how to create believable characters using the enneagram, and how to bring those characters to life using some of the techniques used by actors. Not to mention the fun of learning about sitcom writing, unleashing wild words, and learning about successful writing residencies. My notebook is bursting at the seams! And I have some great goals to drive me onwards, thanks to the final session of the week.
The other excitement for me, on a personal level, was hosting my second prose open-mic night, and my first writing session, through the Lift Up Your Pens group on Wednesday morning. I love hosting writing workshops, but I will admit it’s slightly daunting to have the likes of Della Galton, Elizabeth Ducie and Beatrice Fishback walk in through the door, and then to present a writing workshop! It’s one thing to have those names on your bookshelf, quite another to see them sat in front of you…
But that’s part of the magic of Swanwick. Yes, it’s fascinating to hear from great authors, presenting courses or as evening speakers, but it’s the little moments, when you realise these people are also lovely, approachable people, quite happy to natter about writing, or far more important things like the fact that it’s National Prosecco Day. At one point, in the middle of a conversation at the prosecco end of the scale, I suddenly realised one of the ladies standing in the circle was Sue Moorcroft, another name from the bookshelf, and another example of how great and inter-mingled Swanwick really is.
As a result of all of the above, I’m already looking forward to getting booked up for Swanwick 2019, and the chance to do it all over again. There really are only two things I’d like to change: 1) No bus replacements, and 2) I must remember to try and lose extra weight before going – those puddings are just too good to resist…