It’s been a busy week.
I usually like to write my blog posts a couple of days in advance and then schedule them for Sunday afternoon. But here it is, Sunday morning, and I’m only just typing these introductory sentences. When this happens I usually find myself gripped by panic, certain that this will be the day I fail to post on my blog. And it does happen from time to time. In two years of blogging though, every Sunday, I think I have maybe missed three Sundays.
That’s not too bad.
This Sunday I am not gripped by panic. Today feels right to be writing my blog, because there’s only one thing I want to talk about, and that is the National Writers Conference, which happened yesterday.
I go every year.
And I love it.
You should come along too.
There are lots of reasons why I love the National Writers Conference, but here is a good one to start with: It’s held in Birmingham, not London.
Let me repeat that sentence.
The National Writers Conference is held in Birmingham, NOT London.
For those of you who live in less capital city centric countries than the UK, this statement might not mean so much, but honestly, this is a big deal.
Amongst us writers, anyway.
As always there were lots of excellent panels, with advice and information on (and these were just the ones I went to): How Publishing Works, Resilience For Writers, and Getting Your Work Heard.
There were also two keynote addresses, one at the start from Mandy Ross, poet and children’s writer, amongst other things. I particularly liked her emphasis on collaboration with artists from disciplines other than writing, and sometimes doing the work for the sake of it, rather than for payment (important though that is).
The final keynote address from Kit de Waal about working class writers and their under representation amongst the big five publishers (and under representation of BAME and LGBTQ writers too) was passionate, balanced, realistic and hopeful.
All excellent as usual, but for me the greatest value from the National Writers Conference comes from catching up with writing friends and making new ones. And it’s always a delight to see William Gallagher, Susan Stokes-Chapman, Emma Boniwell, Jonathan Davidson, George Bastow and plenty of other people too.
At the end of every Writers Conference we have the Spark Young Writers Awards, certificates of achievement for young writers who attend the Spark Young Writers groups held across the West Midlands. It was my pleasure this year to present certificates, as well as give a ten minute inspiring speech.
Me, standing up on that stage in the Bramall Music building at the University of Birmingham.
Nerve wracking stuff, but I have to say I enjoyed myself.
Not sure about my audience, but I got some laughs (intended) and a round of applause at the end, so I’m guessing they enjoyed themselves too.
We also launched the Read On anthology, After Summer, in which I have a story written with the involvement of a group of students from Redhill Secondary School. This is the English translation of a collaborative project involving France, Italy, Norway and the UK and organised by the Read On EU initiative, designed to encourage young people to read and write creatively.
So yes, a good day.
And all this on the back of a busy few weeks in which I received an acceptance from publisher DC Thompson for a new pocket novel, wrote lots and lots of words, ran my usual creative writing clubs, had a four page article published in Writing Magazine, and ran the Blakedown Bolt, a 10k cross country run, the night before the conference.
So yes, I’m exhausted.
I’m spending the day unwinding a little today, and then back to it tomorrow.
Because I love what I do.