All good things must come to an end, and so, Swanwick 2019 is, sadly, over. In my opinion, it’s been one of the best, so good, that I’m breaking the annual ‘Swanwick Adventures’ into two posts this year; working hard today, and of course, playing hard tomorrow!
Firstly, the bits that were causing me slight nerves, but in the end, were fabulous. I wrote last week about how I’d run the Prose Open Mic Night, and a session of Lift Up Your Pens during last year’s Swanwick, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing the same this year. During the open mic night, co-hosting with Maggie Cobbett, we got to hear some wonderful prose, including novel extracts, memoir, flash fiction and short stories, across a wide range of genres and styles. It’s always a great event to host, with the added fun that half the audience are in fancy-dress, ready to hit the disco straight afterwards!
Of course, being the weak-willed, disco-loving person I am, I stayed up dancing until midnight after the Open Mic night, however I did have the sense to drink nothing stronger than water and orange squash, so I was back up bright and early for my turn at Lift Up Your Pens on Tuesday morning.
These sessions are great, getting the creative juices flowing first thing in the morning, with a variety of thought-provoking and fun prompts and exercises. I love attending them as a delegate, and this week, used the time to generate a couple of scenes for a new novel I’m currently thinking about, as well as some interesting information about the use of language. For my session, I used a fun exercise to make descriptions a little more interesting, limiting the language available to you. It’s gone down well at North Tyneside Writers’ Circle, and I was chuffed that the Swanwick early-bird writers also seemed to enjoy it.
Then, we were onto the big one, for me at least. Hosting my first one-hour workshop at Swanwick, on Social Media For Writers. Despite initial nerves, I had a great time, sharing my Top Ten Tips, answering questions from the audience, and having some interesting discussions about the best things writers can do on Twitter, especially, to engage with their readers. Sharing knowledge and experience is one of the big draws of Swanwick, with everyone, from the most experienced writers through to those just starting out on their journey, being so friendly and helpful. And after all, every day is a school day, isn’t it?
The “working hard” wasn’t limited to the times I was up in front of people though. My notebook is overflowing with hints, tips and inspiration. One of the things I enjoy most about Swanwick, is that I don’t divide my notes into courses. I start at the beginning of the week, and course follows course. So, I flick from “plotting crime” to “teaching for writers”, then tips on entering writing competitions, and adding twists to your writing. Seeing exercises and notes side-by-side can spark off new trains of thought, giving rise to even more ideas. I know I’ll be returning to my notebook time and time again over the next couple of weeks, something I always love doing.
I’m off to pick a new notebook off the shelf now, to make a start…