Yes, I went. To York. To the Festival.
To learn. To network. To communicate.
I should throw in a disclaimer: I grew up near York. My grandparents lived across the road from the university. My uncle was a lecturer there. I spent many happy hours playing in the grounds of the university. Going to York is like going home.
My biggest disappointment of the weekend? I couldn’t find the stepping stones that I remember from childhood.
My biggest surprise of the weekend? Meeting up with the boy who was Head Boy of my year at school. Didn’t expect to bump into him!
My biggest enjoyment of the weekend? Catching up with lifelong friends who still live in the area, and visiting my mother’s grave.
So, my review of the Festival Weekend is tainted by my social life, as the three most significant items that occurred were nothing to do with writing or the festival, but everything to do with nostalgia.
But back to the writing part. It was great to meet up with so many writers. Everyone was keen to talk about their writing and to share what they had learned. The opportunity to talk with agents, publishers and book doctors was invaluable. Many of the people I spoke to over meals had been asked for full manuscripts. How fantastic! New, exciting writing is being sought. I hope that some of them get publishing contracts – after all, I’d love to say I’d known them when…
For me, the book doctor experience was the best. She was enthusiastic about my writing and gave me great ideas as to how to progress not just the first chapter (which was all she saw) but also the shape of the book. I have spent the past week trying to put it into practice. It’s not as easy as it sounds!
Over the two days I was there I attended six workshops. Most of these were good, though not necessarily relevant to me. It is always hard to tell what a talk will be like from a short blurb on the website beforehand. If they are anything like me they leave the blurb as open as possible so that the final session can still fit in even if the subject matter changes as time grows closer. Mostly I came away with a list of books to read… and buy… which should help with the art of writing.
What I didn’t come away with was an extra three days in every week in which to read those books and spend time writing. Perhaps that’s something the organisers can consider for next year?