winchester writers festival

Image result for winchester writers festivalLast week I got to spend the whole day amongst my fellow creative types at Winchester’s 38th Writers’ Festival.

It would have been great to spend the whole weekend there, taking full advantage, but I just had neither the bandwidth nor the finances to make that happen. Maybe next year!

What’s it all about?

Writing! Publishing! Editing! Marketing!

The festival programme was packed with informative sessions led by proven, knowledgeable speakers. Three days of workshops, panels, discussions, readings, and networking.

While I had to step out of two of the talks I attended for 1-2-1 appointments, I thoroughly enjoyed attending Jacquelina Saphra‘s interactive talk on poetry, hearing Hanna Jameson talk about writing tips, as well as learning about commercial women’s fiction from Sareeta Domingo and short story structure from Susmita Bhattacharya. They were all really interesting sessions, and I also got to meet other writers and make some friends.

Fun features:

The open mic night was a wonderfully intimate place to read pieces, and people from all walks of life read novel excerpts, flash fiction, poetry, and even script snippets (scrippets?). I read a few of my more politically motivated poems to enthusiastic applause. The added benefit of it being entirely for and by writers was that you also got more helpful feedback after reading.

Winchester Writers’ Festival also offered 1-2-1 sessions with industry professionals. Some of these were purely to workshop a piece submitted in advance, but there were also a lot of literary agents handing out offers. I pitched one of my works, and received some really great feedback that will help me improve future drafts.

The flipside:

THE PRICE. HOLY CATS THE PRICE.

And this is frankly endemic in writing festivals/conferences/conventions.

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As someone who has done events management and budgeting, I feel like the steep prices could be undercut, and still have a good event. But I also get the feeling that the fact that there is no other event like the Winchester Writers’ Festival anywhere near Hampshire does allow them to hold their delegates hostage.

While they do have about ten scholarship slots that receive free cost of attendance plus accommodation, and a small bursary fund (I qualified for one of those bursaries), it still leaves a lot of people with a searing hole in their wallets.

We need events like these that are affordable because otherwise the writing and publishing world turns into this classist community where your own bank account is gatekeeping you out of it.

That’s why today I’m at the much more reasonably priced TLC Writers’ Day at the Free Word Centre in London. I’ll be writing about this event for my next blog post!

Go on. Try it.

Maybe start with a word. The most lovely word. Your favourite, in fact.

Describe its colours. Describe its sound. Tell us about the music it forms in your mind.

Set that paragraph into a context. A scene. A moment. A memory.

Put someone in that context. Maybe you, maybe not-you. Maybe not a person at all.

What do they do? Do they paint those palettes you created? Do they sing the music you wrote? Does their voice sound like that word? Do they reverberate with the same frequency?

What emotions do they have? Are they that of your word, or are they reactionary? What are their thoughts? Do they share your love of your word?

Think about the world they live in, a world of your word. In an instantaneous moment, it sprang forth from a seed that you cultivated. Are you not a god in this act of creation?

You have created from nothing, in defiance of all the known laws of the universe.

How mighty you are, how powerful and wise.

Carry this knowledge of your strength, your wisdom, and your vision, in a special place within you.

Draw upon it in your hour of need, and nurture it in your times of triumph. Keep it hidden, but easily accessed. The world you inhabit fears the dark, but it fears the light even more. We praise it in its absence but seek in terror to snuff it out in its presence.

Guard your light. Guard your nugget of truth. So that you can share of it with the world, linking it up to all your infinities.

kyd

We’ve all heard this piece of advice. It gets bandied about like that fruitcake your family has been regifting every Christmas since Reagan held office. But recently, I heard something a little different:

I have a thought about ‘kill your darlings.’ There seems to be a general notion out there in the ether that the phrase means, ‘Hunt down every sentence or image you really love and cut it down like a pernicious weed.’  That, my dears, is bullshit.

In my opinion, what it really means is, ‘If you’re rewriting a whole scene just so that a paragraph or conversation you’re in love with will work, and it still kind of doesn’t, maybe it doesn’t really belong in this story and you should print it out and put it in a lovely, decorative folder labelled DARLINGS to read on those days when you hate every sentence you’re writing.’

Delia Sherman, American fantasy writer

I love this idea of celebrating and showcasing work you’re proud of even if it doesn’t make your final draft. I also think that we as a writing community are excellent at cheering each other on during the writing part of the process, but that there needs to be more mutual support in the editing stages, too. The less editing sucks, the fewer first drafts are gonna be floating around masquerading as finished manuscripts.

So, it is with this sentiment that I propose the following: Undead Darlings. This is a Twitter event, similar to the daily writing sharing tags, like #2bittues and #1lineWed, but with a bit of a twist.

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How it works:

  • Every Tuesday, share a ‘darling’ you killed in the editing process. You can share up to a five line paragraph.
  • Only one contribution per person, please! I am only one person(and not a very good one at that) and also I don’t want to drown out the #2bittues people.
  • Include the hashtag #UndeadDarlings, so I can find you!
  • Now for the real twist–by that Friday, I’ll contact one participant for an interview! We’ll talk about your darling, how it met its untimely demise, your editing process, and obviously, anything you wanna promote.
  • Your interview will go up the following Tuesday right here! (Yeah, it’s a bit of a turnaround period, but again, I am one person, and I don’t want to rush your post or get overwhelmed and have to shut this down)

So, hopefully, that covers everything, but I’m sure this page will get updated as I figure out why my current plan is a terrible idea. But that’s okay. This blog isn’t called Hearning Curve for nothing, amirite?

not-funnyI know, and I’m sorry.


Have questions, comments, concerns, calls for my execution?
Thoughts on the ‘Kill Your Darlings’ mentality?
Amazing gifs of Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan?
Put them in the comments below!