Just back from my ‘white badger’ week at Swanwick (first time visitors are given a white name badge and everyone else gets a yellow one).
There was a packed program plus lots of friendly people to meet. After all that ‘busyness’ and chatter the following points stick in my mind:
- Three great talks from People’s Friend fiction editor, Shirley Blair. She told us a lot about the magazine’s requirements and how to improve our chances of success, including the fact that 3,000 to 4,000 word stories are particularly needed and that the magazine is willing to ‘push the boundaries’ on some of their previously taboo subjects.
- Tips on novel editing from David Hough, including the advice to get the novel printed as a proof paperback at Lulu.com for the final read through – seeing the manuscript in this different format should make the errors jump out.
- Meeting some of my virtual acquaintances ‘in the flesh’ for the first time and re-establishing contact with people I’ve met at other writing events and courses in the past.
- The stress of creating an improvised play for public performance with only a few hours to prepare it.
- The peace of morning meditation around the lake.
- Never sit at the end of a table in the dining-room because you’ll have to serve the meal (and make sure everyone gets equal portions!)
Bead Roberts (who writes for the womags and is also a creative writing tutor) was one of my ‘re-establishing contact people’. She’s a lovely lady with a wealth of experience to pass on and is tutoring a weekend short story writing course in Leeds on the 26th to 28th September at Weetwood Hall (a great venue – I went there last year). Details can be found on the Relax and Write website.