Sunday, 15 November 2009
NAWE Conference 13-15 November.
The National Association of Writers in Education conference was lovely. More than a hundred writers who also teach writing at universities and schools gathered in a hotel called Chilworth Manor, near Southampton. The marvellous, inspiring company of writers I knew, and the joy of meeting new ones.
Great to spend time with Alison MacLeod, Professor of Contemporary Writing at Chichester University - she of the amazing writing skills, amazing teaching skills, and the generosity to write for Short Circuit. Alison’s website HERE.
Great to catch up with Peggy Riley again from Kent Live Lit, who blogs HERE
Great to see Sarah Butler, erstwhile writer-in-residence for the Circle Line (!) who has a packed website HERE and who whizzed down from London to do a presentation on writing to a setting.
And NAWE leading light Graham Mort, who was winner of Bridport 2007, among a thousand other things including directing the PhD writing programme at Lancaster, website HERE who also contributed a chapter to Short Circuit.
And smashing to meet the dynamic and totally amazing Gilly Smith – pour yourself a large gin, sit down and read about her HERE on her website
Amazing lady. She also teaches CNF at the University of Brighton.
Sarah, Alison and I were all running presentations/workshops at the same time yesterday, which was very saaad as I’d have loved to go to both their sessions. But I did go to some extraordinary ones – I’ll pick out a couple. First, one run by two tutors over from Columbia College, Chicago, who gave such an intense workshop…intended to illustrate the way they conduct their four-and-a-half-hour student workshops… only this was in one-and-a half! Next, a session on the influence of the visual arts on fiction… a look at ‘reality’ as portrayed in art, film, and the use of drawing techniques in fiction workshops. And one on maps in fiction, the importance of knowing your setting well -and how you can map out a real setting, using GPS to introduce a web of sound, accessed by students with iPods as they explore… I tell you there are some amazing influences on the next generation of writers out there.
I ran a flash fiction workshop, for some 25 participants. Funny, so many people seemed to have sidelined their own writing, in order to teach it. (Warning... take note!) That seemed sad. So much of my planned workshop went out of the window as we focussed on super flashes, and I used Tania Hershman's work 'Plaits' as a prompt, which produced some extraordinary and very good pieces. Sold all but one of the Rose Metal text books I had left.
Two whole days of presentations, workshops, discussions and events. Keynote talks/interviews/readings from novelist Graham Swift and poet Wendy Cope. Quite fantastic really. (Actually… V retired to bed before the poetry… and went and wrote her own. I find it so hard to do that at home. Why do hotel bedrooms work?!)
And of course, the launch, for which Jen Hamilton-Emery battled through the high weekend winds to Southampton all the way from Cambridge. The launch of Short Circuit was lovely, in the huge mini-theatre of the hotel… complete with cinema screen, rows of chairs, vast lectern. We had a quality audience and offered them short readings from the book, generously introduced by endorser, the Director of NAWE, Paul Munden. Sales were brisk, orders filled in, and it gave Jen and I a warm feeling to know that our book was winging its way to the best of homes all over the country.