Wow, the Festival of Writing was a mighty fine event. http://www.writersworkshop.co.uk/Booking-Festival.html
It brings together the very best industry experts; book doctors, editors, publishers and agents and successful authors, all wanting to share their experiences and their sound advice. All there, waiting to give feedback on your writing project, whatever the stage you are at.
Held on the University of York campus with a beautiful lake as its central feature, we were surrounded by equally lovely people who understood what it was like to be a writer. We talked writerly things. For the whole weekend
And it was full on. My friend and I arrived early Friday evening, changed straight into our glad rags and headed for dinner. Conversations struck up with strangers were fuelled with excitement and interest. After dinner, there were competition presentations, and then the chatter- all keen to hear the projects of fellow writers -the buzz went on well into the night.
Saturday after breakfast we had a keynote address by two leading authors, Rachel Abbott and Mark Edwards who went down the self-publishing route to enormous success proving that traditional publishing was being clipped at the heels. Following on from this were a series of workshops and talks structured throughout the rest of the day from writing a blistering blurb to analyzing your story structure to showing and telling advice to characterisation- these were just a few.
While all of this was going on, the one-to-ones were taking place. So many talented writers on campus, you can imagine how nerve-wracking the 10-minute one-to-ones with your chosen industry experts was, (for me they were agents).
The agents had a sample of my novel’s opening chapters, a synopsis and a one-page introduction, weeks ahead of the event. The meeting started with me pitching my book to them. They then turn ‘forensic’ on you and this is where you find out whether every stone in your book is turned. If they are still interested they will ask you to send them the complete manuscript. All over in ten minutes. No pressure then.
We had a wonderful Gala dinner- dressing up is such a pleasure – before we were up again Sunday morning for some more first-hand author experiences such as Ruth Hogan and Deborah Install. The workshops had me writing furiously- so many golden nuggets of advice.
It was fun but it was a no-nonsense weekend. The kid gloves were off and constructive criticism was dispensed through sharp lenses. I came away from the whole weekend exhausted but inspired and with the word perseverance ringing in my ears.
If you can, go. Go, go, go. You will not be disappointed.
I was lucky; I came away with agent interest. All I can do now is keep my fingers and everything else I can possibly cross, crossed.