The Magic of Swanwick

Well, here I am on the last day of Swanwick Writers' Summer School.  If you know nothing about it, look it up.  []  It's the most brilliant week of courses, speakers, food, mad discos, meditative moments, networking, food, sleep deprivation...   Oh, and did I mention food?  I think this is my eighth year at the school, so by this stage I've been roped into doing all sorts of stuff to contribute to, as well as receive from, the week.  Maybe a bit too much this year...  But I have really enjoyed leading two chapel devotions and running a one-hour workshop on Scandinavian folk tale, Prince Lindworm.  It was amazing what wonderful re-tellings could be produced by people in two 10-minute slots.  

As well as giving out, I have managed to take some things in!  I've especially enjoyed a talk by James Moran (who's written for Dr Who and Torchwood), a 4-part poetry course from Debjani Chatterjee, agent Meg Davis talking about how to edit your manuscript, and last night and today the brilliant Curtis Jobling, creator of Bob the Builder and the teen fantasy series Wereworld.  I was so inspired by his description of his fantasy world in Wereworld that I raced to the queue to buy the book!

(delegates'/speakers' books on the iconic "Swanwick lawn")

I've come to think of Swanwick as the new year of my writing year.  What happens at Swanwick usually sets up what happens in my next year of writing.  This year (aside from learning how to write very short forms of poetry for my own personal satisfaction) it's been all about my almost-finished manuscript for Cage of Nightingales.  Lots to think about on that front...  And it was a special highlight to meet up with a beta-reader to discuss the story, especially when we were both going, "Carlo is so sweet!"  I've also sold and signed copies of Silver Hands and some flash fiction postcards.  And I was very impressed (or scared!) by one Swanwicker who was already on chapter 5 of Silver Hands last night!

And it wouldn't be Swanwick without all the fun and (sometimes) crazy entertainment every night.  My personal highlight of that had to be the fancy dress disco.  The theme was, "characters from fiction of the last 65 years".  (It's Swanwick's 65th anniversary).  So I loved expressing myself as Robin Hobb's Fool, even though I don't think anyone else there had read the (hugely bestselling) books.  Tonight's piano singalong with me at the piano may well be the lowlight in terms of utter chaos, but I can always recover on the train tomorrow!

                           (me playing the Fool)


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