Sunday, 7 June 2015

Be Prepared To Take A Risk (Goals Part 8) 7th June 2015

Tea & Cake - Maria A Smith

I've had a busy and full week. The day job is going well, and is keeping me on my toes, and at last I am feeling more like my old self. My juggling skills have returned, and I'm performing well, getting things done. I've made a list, and I'm managing stuff neglected in the last six months. Like dusting the skirting boards, sorting out household documents, weeding the garden, and making healthier meals. All of the above sounds very mundane, and it is, but there has been fun as well...

Last year, I discovered writing workshops are not all created equal, and it is not my intention to bad mouth anyone of them here - not now. Although at the time, I was spitting feathers for want of a better expression after attending a few badly organised, or badly taught sessions. The whole experience left me never wanting to do anything writing related again, outside of my own safe bubble, of writing at home, and going to my writers group, and that is not healthy, is it? Not when I enjoy nothing more than having a day out to interact with other writers, and a passion to learn something new.

I took a risk on Saturday, I visited the first ever Derby Book Festival, in particular their Writers Day. Refreshingly well organised, it was a breeze to attend, from booking the tickets, to turning up on the day and being warmly welcomed, and respectfully shown the way to the first workshop.

Young Adult and Children's Writing, which I've never attempted before, apart from writing one or two very short stories, the genre is one I'm eager to know more about. Our tutor, Caroline Pitcher, was well prepared, and had plenty of information and writing tasks ready for us. We shared our efforts, and discussed the genre, with Caroline showing us examples, as well as giving us useful information on submitting our writing. The time flew by all too soon, and I was left wishing the workshop could have been twice as long.

After a quick fifteen minute break (barely time to do much other than reach my next workshop) I was buzzing, ready for more on the spot scribbles! I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. Mark Chadbourn on Scriptwriting was always going to be good, because Mark is hugely talented, I've attended a few of his workshops before and he has never failed to be brilliant! Yesterday being no exception.

His manner is friendly, but you know you are going to be put through your paces. There is no slacking, everyone takes part. He does that 'round the table' thing, doesn't ask if you want to read out, and I think writers get much more from the experience this way. A sort of, 'you signed up for this, so lets hear you' it worked well. I left feeling happy, but robbed - another workshop that wasn't long enough.

We broke for lunch, although I didn't eat, I'd had a hearty breakfast beforehand, so instead settled for a quick walk in the sunshine, and a drink in the pub. Yes, I did. I nipped into the pub, and had a double gin. After all, I was on an away day.

Forty-five minutes later, I was back at the festival, seated and ready to hear from The Experts Panel, which consisted of Publisher Karen Ball, literary Agent Dianne Banks and Publicist Julia Murday. A lively discussion began, and included questions such as, how important is the social persona of an aspiring author? Is it an advantage to know about publishing before you seek representation? And where should writers research to find agents?

Each expert was given a turn in answering all questions, they were all more than willing to reveal everything you ever wanted to know, and more, with many writers asking questions it proved to be a popular discussion. At the end, I didn't go up to ask anything further, and in any case it wouldn't have been easy getting anywhere near them. They were going to be there a while, as hoards of writerly types surrounded them eager to ask further questions.

All too soon it was time to leave, but first, I actively sought out one of the helpers, requesting a feedback form. I wrote all good things, and my only gripe of the day was that it hadn't been longer!

And today, I've been busy too, mainly catching up with household tasks, but did manage to carve out some time for sitting in a deck chair in the glorious sunshine to read Writing Magazine and drink tea and eat cake!

I am feeling so much better these days.

The week ahead looks like this,

Writing - 

Enter a story into the Writing Magazine competition
Query a magazine re an article on caravanning
Edit a chapter of my novel
Learn more about Scrivener
Take part in #writingchat on Wednesday
Have a go at the writing group task
Write a letter
Do a blog post

Health - 

Get to the pool at least twice!
Go for a walk
Plan healthy meals for the week ahead

It looks like a long list, certainly it will be a challenge, but I have a plan, and now I just need to plan it into my diary...

Have a good week.


  1. So glad that things are all coming together now. The festival workshops sound really interesting - what a shame you've found that other workshops are not as well organised. The only workshop I've been to is the Woman's Weekly one and that worked well.

    1. I must try one of those Wendy...

  2. This sounds like a brilliant day. Doesn't it make a difference when the organisation is good?

    1. Definitely does...thank goodness there are still some professionals around.

  3. Very impressed with your list. Hope it's going well.

  4. I'm glad a couple of not so good experiences didn't put you off completely. Perhaps I've been lucky with the events I've gone to as although some have certainly been better than others, all have been worth attending.

  5. Weird! I just don't seem to get your updates any more. Oh well, glad I found your most recent post and glad you enjoyed the event in Derby. It certainly came across when we were chatting about it! :)

    1. Yes, will definitely go again next year if they do writing workshops.


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