Monday, 21 March 2016

Inspiring Writing Conference

I returned last night from our annual Scottish Association of Writers weekend conference tired and inspired after all the chatting, eating and concentration. What a great weekend in the company of writers from all over Scotland, as well as an agent, a couple of publishers and plenty of professional authors as speakers, workshop leaders, or as some of the general delegates from all the various writing groups.

Westerwood Hotel
I've been attending for many years and never fail to be inspired by at least one of the workshops - daughter Victoria also goes. This year it was even more relaxing not to be adjudicating any of the competitions myself, which allowed me to enter a couple of different competitions from those I have in the past. I'd decided this would be the last time I entered any and was only seeking the written critique that every judge has to provide on all entries. So I was absolutely delighted to win third prize in both the Under 7s (picture book) story and the non-fiction book competition (first 15,000 words)! It lets me now consider whether or not to take these two ideas further.

Misty view form the car park
Two of the workshops I attended provided added inspiration and lots to think about. The first was Picture Books - what makes them different? This was run by well-published author, Linda Strachan, who did an excellent power-point presentation of all the different types of books available for the various ages of childhood. She emphasised how important it was to structure a story suitable for babies, toddlers and read-alone for instance and how the words work together with the illustrator's pictures.

Another workshop I found inspiring was Writing a Dramatic Monologue run by professional writer, Catherine Czerkawska who has written many plays for stage and radio as well as novels and short stories. It was particularly interesting to hear how writing a monologue can be very effective for fiction writers - or using short monologues to get to know your characters' voices. Although I've watched one of Catherine's plays and heard another on radio, I was completely absorbed in her advice and short excerpts, one of which was very powerful and emotional as it was about the Chernobyl disaster. I wasn't surprised to hear some of the audience had been in tears when it was performed on stage!

Coffee Break!
The hotel itself is a few miles north of Glasgow and they do us proud - fabulous rooms, facilities and food. Their pastry chef provided scones with jam and cream one afternoon during our quick coffee break and little chocolate brownies yesterday morning, as well as a variety of non-alcoholic cocktails! We were all surprised on Saturday afternoon to find a wrapped bar of rocky road chocolate in each of the rooms. These little touches enhanced the enjoyment of the whole weekend.

The SAW committee also made a special effort on the Saturday evening by arranging a Gala Dinner for us, complete with Candelabra on each table! Our president, Marc, mentioned Hogwarts in his welcome before dinner was served. We'd been encouraged to glam up that evening, so I did. Any excuse for a little bit of glamour and drama!

Victoria and me at the candlelit dinner
Now it's back to reality and catching up on all the things I left behind, including another competition to judge. But we're all inspired to get on with our writing and each conference encourages new writers to try all the wonderful ways in which to use words. Roll on next year!

Rosemary

23 comments:

Helena Fairfax said...

That sounds a wonderful event, Rosemary. how great to be able to attend with your daughter. And congratulations on your competition success!

Joanna said...

What a gorgeous event, Rosemary, and both you and Vikki look beautiful. Huge congratulations on your success in the competitions. I will be very interested to know more about them if you do decide to take them further. Wishing you good luck with all your projects! xxx

Carolb said...

Sounds like you had a very enjoyable and productive time, Rosemary. I think most writers can't help but go away inspired after such opportunities.

Congratulations on your competition placings too. :)

Rae Cowie said...

What a wonderful round up of events, Rosemary and I'm not surprised you came away as a competition winner - congratulations! Also, lovely to see Victoria in the photos too. :-)

Foreva said...

Lovely write-up, Rosemary. It was a great weekend. Congratulations on your success. Congratulations too to Victoria - a talented writer, indeed. Helen Forbes

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Helena - always inspiring to get together with writers!

Many thanks, Joanna - I'll certainly blog about the projects if anything further happens!

Thanks, Carol - I think we all feed off each other's enthusiasm!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks a lot, Rae - you know what a buzz it is to be in the company of other writers!

Many thanks for leaving a lovely comment, Helen - it was good of you to drop by!

Kate Blackadder said...

The weekend always goes so quickly. Workshops by Caro Ramsay and Douglas Skelton were terrific. And I second everything you say about the hotel, Rosemary; the service is both slick and friendly and the food is scrumptious. Special mention for the apple crumble tart on Friday night ...

Catherine Czerkawska said...

I enjoyed the whole weekend too, Rosemary. And was thinking that at a previous conference some years ago, I found a workshop you gave on promotion and marketing very inspiring and informative - I think you should repeat it soon! But it was lovely to meet so many friends (many of them people I tend to interact with more on Facebook) And what an excellent venue.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

It does indeed go quickly, Kate - glad the workshops you attended were so good too. Wish I'd had that apple crumble tart!

Thanks for commenting, Catherine, and for your kind words about my workshop (which I can hardly remember)! I love this venue and all the little touches to make it memorable.

Joan Fleming said...

Yes, it was a great weekend, Rosemary. Adjudications, workshops, seminars - all in a well-appointed venue. Al Guthrie's seminars on Self Editing for Novelists were excellent (and great fun).

It was an opportunity to meet friends old and new who are happy to discuss writing for an entire weekend.

Congratulations on your competition success, Rosemary. As you say, roll on next year.

Anne Stenhouse said...

Hi Rosemary, great round-up. I enjoyed it all, too. the weather Gods were kind this year and I managed to get out for a stroll. the site has wonderful long views to rolling hills. Everything a writer needs really. Anne Stenhouse

Rcs Anderson said...

Great SAW conference, I couldn't agree more. T'was lovely to meet you in person.
Rhona A. from Ayr Writers' Club

Nicola said...

Sounds like you had a fabulous time and what a wonderful mother daughter outing. Congratulations on your unexpected wins. That must feel GRREEAATTT! and you must take each of those WIPs further, surely? So pleased life is treatly you and Victoria kindly. Wishing you both a lovely Spring time!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your success at the conference! Glad it was so enjoyable -I hope next weekend is too... Catriona

Patsy said...

It sounds like a wonderful event, Rosemary. Congratulations on your great results.

Maria said...

I am jealous. I like the idea of that monologue workshop, sounds very interesting.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks, Joan - glad you enjoyed the workshops you went to! Looking forward to next year already.

It was lovely weather, Anne - the icing on the cake! Glad you enjoyed the weekend.

Hi Rhona - thanks for commenting! Lovely to meet you too and I'm sure we all went home inspired to get on with our writing.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Many thanks for your kind comment, Nicola. Yes, I'll think some more about those projects and hopefully get them sent out one day!

Thanks, Catriona! Had a great time and looking forward to the wedding.

Thanks, Patsy - they were unexpected but gratefully received!

I think you'd have enjoyed most of the workshops, Maria - all inspiring!

susanjanejones said...

What an enjoyable break that sounds. And there's no mistaking you're mum and daughter though you look like sisters. Well done on the results and look forward to hearing more on those stories.

Wendy's Writing said...

I think it must be quite exciting to write something a bit different. You're obviously very versatile writing something for children as well as non-fiction. Sounds like it was a lovely event for you and your daughter.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

What a lovely comment, Susie - thank you!

Thanks, Wendy - it was an inspiring weekend!

Angela Ackerman said...

Sounds terrific--I would love to get over to your neck of the woods one day! :)