Not my favourite day as there’s always a definite sense of ending looming on the horizon.
I’m always struck by how many of the 200+ plus people I haven’t managed to engage with at all, and frustration at not being able to spend enough time with others. At Swanwick, six days feels like both a lifetime and a moment in time.
The next photo shows my friend John, from Watford Writers.
The day began with yet another difficult choice. Did I go to Steve Hartley’s course on writing for young people or Simon Hall’s one on crime writing. As I’m supposed to be working on a novel for teenagers (!) I opted for Steve then wished I hadn’t. Steve is amazing. His insights into character and what makes people tick are invaluable but this time his audience worked against him. His subject of choice was bullying and everyone wanted to share their own experiences rather than listen to the theory. I decided to switch over for the next session as I could always down load Steve’s notes from the web site at a later date.
Meanwhile, it was time for the last session of Xanthe Wells’ glorious novel course. It began with how creativity makes you feel and comparing that with how it feels when you’re not being creative. For me the difference is stark. When I’m being creative I feel full of ideas, enthusiasm and energy. When I’m not being creative, I feel listless, tired, fed up and half alive. Pretty good reasons for getting on with some writing I’d say.
A final thought from the course as a whole – Dumbo didn’t need the feather, the magic was in him already.
After lunch, I headed to the second part of Simon Hall’s crime writing course. As always, he was brilliant and I’m not just saying that because I like him. He knows how to hold an audience. There’s never a dull moment because you simply don’t know what he’ll do next. Sadly, he kept his clothes on this time, but then you can’t have everything can you?
The main work of the summer school was over. Time for the big wind down to begin. I’m not going to go into too much detail here. If you were there, you know all about it, if you weren’t, then maybe you should have been. First came the AGM which was efficiently run and not at all boring and which left us with a man at the helm (Michael O’Byrne). The raffle was also drawn and the prize of a free week at next year’s school went to Julia, a very popular lady, which was great to see.
After that it was the famous dregs party where everyone puts their left overs (mainly booze) on a long table and everyone tucks in. Some people dress up for the occasion too. That was when I finally got to spend more than a couple of seconds with the delightful Helen Yendall, a lady I'd long wanted to meet.
After that it was dinner followed by the last night’s entertainment in the main conference hall. I was a bit wary. In previous years there’s been a big name speaker on the last night but due to economics, a version of I’m Sorry, I haven’t a Clue was staged instead. I need not have worried because it was brilliantly done. My only beef was that I wasn’t invited to take part. It was an evening of silliness and fun complete with audience participation courtesy of dozens of kazoos which were handed out. The final item on Thursday’s agenda was the traditional Swanwick farewell when everyone links hands and sings Auld Lang Syne, after which I headed for the bar.
The photo shows the new Vice Chair, and no, she didn't drink ALL that booze.
Having injured my foot earlier in the week I should NOT have gone to the last night disco but in the end I did. I don’t get many chances to dance and simply couldn’t resist. The upshot was that the next morning, I could barely walk, but it was worth it. Definitely.