Secondly I was unprepared for the size of the event. Expecting to be one of about 40-50 delegates I was overwhelmed to find myself with 240 other writers. The usual opening at mealtimes to a new companion was 'and what do you write?' And each time I asked this question I was never quite prepared for the response. Swanwick attracts writers of all genres. There are many fiction writers, of short stories and novels, but equally many poets, non-fiction and technical writers. I met several individuals specialising in training materials and books, all who enjoyed Swanwick for the chance of sampling other genres.
I will write more in another post on the courses attended, but today I wanted to share the most valuable aspect of the Summer School: the people. Since coming home I've been emailing and tweeting new friends, some I hope will become firm friends. It was great to share my writing projects with others and to learn about other writers' successes (and mistakes). I had fun at the Poetry Slam (listening not participating), loved the Busker's evening, embraced my ambitious streak for the Literary Quiz (my team came a close 2nd) and relished the variety of evening speakers. I wasn't brave enough to step onto the Eurovision Disco floor for the first night, and that was the only night I retired early as simply just too knac-sorry-exhausted. Also hid for the karaoke night, though LitPig was keen to have a go.
One of the most inspirational speakers was Rebecca Woodhead (Writing Magazine columnist on media). I spoke with her after lunch and even off the podium she was still enthusing on the benefits of social networking for writers. Up close she looks at least ten years younger than her age, which she attributes to her diet of non-processed foods (with the exception of chocolate!), but I'd put her youthful appearance down to her positive personality and pure zest for life.
Below I'm pictured alongside the other prize winners:
Back Left to right: Mike Berry (runner-up Adult Short Story), Maureen Jeffs (winner Adult Short Story).
If you regularly read Writing Magazine then look out for the competition adverts - why not set yourself a goal to enter for 2013? The prize is a full week (Sat - Frid morning) at Swanwick Summer Writers' School - all costs covered (worth about £400).
I can understand why many Swanwickers return year after year. Once you've sampled the menu, you just can't wait to get back for more. And it seems Swanwickers simply go on forever - many have been returning for ten years plus. I think I may have stumbled on the secret of a long writing life: Swanwick Summer School ... and cake.
My networking action list:
- Join Google+ (then I can sit round a virtual camp fire and talk writing with new Swanwick mates)
- Make more of my Facebook page
- Use blog and Twitter to promote other writers and their work
- Earn enough through writing to book my place for 2013!