From Friday dinner until Sunday afternoon, it was non-stop with inspiring speakers, very helpful break-out sessions, one-to-ones with agents and publishing editors and even a few wellbeing opportunities. The whole weekend followed the Japanese concept of Ikigai, meaning 'a reason for being' with its four themes: passion, profession, mission and vocation - all necessary to writers.
The four keynote speakers, Joanne Harris, Jane Johnson, Charlie Higson and Joanna Penn wowed us with their empowering talks while break-out sessions gave us many choices including Denise Mina, Caro Ramsay, Jane Johnson, Francesca Main (Picador), Joanna Penn and Sally Polson (Floris). Some were so popular that numbers were limited and we were forced to try something else - not a bad idea as it turned out.
I've long wanted to try Tai Chi so I managed to get to the morning class before breakfast both mornings and I loved it - it's such a gentle form of exercise and wakens up the body. As music affects me deeply, the soothing ethereal notes were a bonus and made it quite a moving experience. We even had CPR training available in another room throughout the Saturday from a doctor involved with Save a Life Scotland. An excellent 'drop-in' idea which only took five minutes of our time and might help someone one day.
Apart from the excellent food, meeting old and new friends, non-stop chat and learning, there was a special Botanist Gin-tasting session before dinner on the Saturday. One of my friends would have appreciated this more than I did, but I noticed it was well-attended! Much more my kind of thing was the ceilidh after dinner on the Saturday evening, with a live Scottish band. Great fun, though an hour of riotous Scottish dancing was enough for me after such a full-on day.
Even on Sunday, we had Joanna Penn's fabulous keynote talk, followed by two break-out sessions of 50 minutes each, then after lunch we ended with an 'Insider Secrets' panel of speakers. A great way to end such a memorable conference.
I'll try and give you a flavour of two of the most sessions in subsequent posts as they are so interesting and deserve their own space: Floris Books and Joanna Penn.
Now to put all that inspiration into practice!