Monday, 24 March 2014

Inspiring Writing Conference

Well, it's all over for another year - the Scottish Association of Writers weekend conference. We had a fabulous new venue, at a hotel and conference centre just north of Glasgow in the countryside, where members of writing groups from all over Scotland renewed old acquaintances and made new friends.

Taking part in the Sketch
It was a full-on weekend from dinner on the Friday to departure on the Sunday afternoon and I wasn't the only one coming home exhausted! I did adjudicate the Romance Novel comp this year, delivering the results after the dinner, then gave a workshop on the Saturday. I'm pretty sure the lovely winning novel I chose will find a publisher. I also took part in a friend's powerful, winning sketch on the Sunday about two Romanian sisters and the awful choice my character had to make. Then there was all the chatting and eating in between the work. I was delighted when daughter Vikki was third in the poetry competition, judged by Nalini Paul, from over 60 entries.

We had two interesting after dinner speakers this year, in Allan Guthrie and Jean Rafferty, and some great adjudicators and speakers. It was a pleasure to chat to Shirley Blair, commissioning editor of The People's Friend at the welcome drinks for judges and speakers. Poor Shirley had a record number of short stories to judge and critique in the Women's Short Story Competition and her workshop on the Saturday was overflowing - as you might expect! But she stayed the whole weekend and was charming throughout.

One of the best innovations this year was the final session - the Dragon's Pen. Eight finalists had to deliver their three minute pitch for a book to a panel of three publishers: Allan Guthrie from Blasted Heath, Sara Hunt from Saraband and Jan Mullen from Black and White Publishing. The quality of the pitches and proposed books were superb and it's no wonder the panel had difficulty choosing. We all reckon at least one of those books will soon be published.

Now it's catching up time and looking forward to another year. The conference is a major calendar event here as it offers so many opportunities for writers to share and learn from each other, as well as newer writers receiving written critiques for their precious work. This was where I got my first break many moons ago, after winning the short story competition judged by the late Ian Sommerville of My Weekly who then published the story. Many have gone on to become novelists and some are household names. So if you get the chance to go to writing conferences, I'd thoroughly recommend it.



Vikki said...

Thought the new venue really made the weekend this year. You all did a good job acting out Morag's fantastic play! Really enjoyed the Dragon's Pen element too and great to hear input from publishers and agents

Teresa Ashby said...

What a fabulous weekend, Rosemary - and congratulations to your daughter, that's just lovely.

I've never been to a writing conference, but I've only ever heard wonderful things about them x

Wendy's Writing said...

How sad that it is so far away from me! I would have loved to have met Shirley - but you became my envoy (although I didn't know it) which was almost as good! The task of choosing the winning romance novel must have been such a difficult one - I bet there were many excellent entries. Now it's back to normal life, Rosemary.

Suzanne Ross Jones said...

What a fab weekend. I'm kicking myself I missed it - especially as I live so near.

Huge congratulations to Vikki.


Joanna said...

A fabulous weekend, Rosemary. It sounds inspiring and entertaining. I'm so pleased to hear about Vikki's success and hope we have the chance to read her poem.xx

Rosemary Gemmell said...

It did make a difference, didn't it, Vikki!

Thanks, Teresa - they're great for inspiration!

Wish you had been able to chat to Shirley, Wendy. It was a difficult choice as so many were so good!

You should join one of the writing groups so you can go another year, Suzanne (if you're not a member already).

Thanks, Joanna - inspiring and entertaining indeed. I was glad Vikki turned to poetry again!

Anonymous said...

What a great weekend, Ros! And congratulations on your daughter's success. Wish I lived nearer!

Jenny Harper said...

Thoroughly enjoyed the weekend - it was great to catch up with so many writerly friends!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thank you, Helena - it was a great weekend!

Good to have your company, Jenny!

Jean Bull said...

It sounds like it was a really useful and enjoyable weekend, Rosemary. The Dragons' Pen sounded like a great idea too, because everyone could benefit from hearing the pitches, though it must have been quite scary to do it in front of an audience!

Joan Fleming said...

It was a brilliant weekend in the new venue. You did so well, Rosemary. Congratulations to all the competition winners. Great to be surrounded by writers for a whole weekend.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

It was very useful to us all, Jean - and scary!

Thanks, Joan - I really enjoyed it and look forward to next year when I hope not be so involved!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

It was very useful to us all, Jean - and scary!

Thanks, Joan - I really enjoyed it and look forward to next year when I hope not be so involved!