The first full day at Swanwick, day 2 on the programme, is always a bit of a culture shock as the courses all kick off and the hard work begins. It’s also the day that the Book Room opens for business. And it’s been a busy day on both fronts.
As always, I resolved to eat healthily and get lots of exercise this time around. And sure enough, at 6.30am, I was on the road, aiming for an hour’s fast walking before the first writing session. Twenty minutes later, my speed had slowed considerably and I knew I wasn’t going to manage a full hour. Lying on damp grass at midnight is definitely NOT good for the back!
Life Up Your Pens, with Karin Bachmann, was a classical exercise: taking a random name, place, time, object and verb, and crafting them into a piece of fiction. Sharing the set “Kevin, MOSI, never, tombstone and to kill” with my neighbour, we demonstrated yet again that no two writers ever look at an exercise in the same way. I wish I’d thought of incorporating “we need to talk about Kevin” into my piece, but that honour went to Geoff. Nevertheless, a useful exercise that will yield a new piece of flash fiction with a bit more work.
This year, I’m taking the four-part specialist course on writing non-fiction, lead by Jacqueline Jeynes. It’s a chance to plot out the structure for book 4 in the Business of Writing series. We were a small group in a huge room, but Jackie’s presentation was fascinating and I’m looking forward to the rest of the sessions.
The Book Room buzzed throughout the three sessions and lots of books were sold, plus pens, notebooks and this year’s star item: the Swanwick tote bag. The Facebook and Twitter group get together allowed us to meet in the flesh some of the people we have chatted with throughout the year. I was proud to be named one of the top five posters. Or does that just mean I spend too much time on social media?
As editor of our town’s community magazine, it seemed only sensible to sign up for Simon Hall’s session on journalism. By the end of the week, we will have produced a digital edition of the Swanwick Standard. So I have at least one piece of homework to do by Wednesday.
Our guest speak tonight was the wonderful Sophie Hannah. I knew she was a crime writer; I had read one of her new Poirot books. But I had no idea she would be so funny. She had us roaring with laughter; and her story of giving birth to her first child was hilarious. They say that writers get ideas from everything around them. That was certainly the case for Sophie. And as an avid plotter, I was delighted to hear the process she uses for planning and drafting her novels. It’s hardly surprising that the queue for her book signing was so long, and that she ran out of books before everyone had been served.
I said yesterday that I would finish each post with an ‘only at Swanwick’ moment. Well, only at Swanwick would I be sitting on my bed at seven minutes to midnight trying to finish my blog before tomorrow becomes today. Signing off, tired but happy.