#Swanwick68: Day 2 (Sunday)
I started the day by lifting my pen with Tarja, who urged us to find an issue of concern and visualise it as a pebble dropped into water. Three times we did it; and three times I failed to see pictures, colours or anything (I don’t think I’m very good at visualisation); maybe I’ll go throw some real pebbles in the real lake instead.
I’ve decided NOT to do one of the four-part specialist courses this year. There’s nothing on the programme that will move my writing on as much as spending the hour in my room working, so that’s what I’m doing. And that’s a lesson that it took me years to learn. The programme is for our benefit; we can mix and match it to suit our needs. Any white badgers reading this, take heed: you don’t have to do everything, just because you can.
I did go to Helen Barbour’s two-parter on Self-Publishing and Veronica Bright’s workshop on flash fiction. Both well-presented, useful courses. And among all the rushing about and working, I found time to sit and chat in the sunshine.
Our guest speaker was James Runcie, author, academic, director, broadcaster and Commissioning Editor for Arts on BBC Radio 4. On occasion, senior literary figures can come across as arrogant and full of themselves. But James was the complete opposite. He was humble, generous in his advice, and funny as well. In his introduction, Michael called James a polymath: well, how else would you describe someone who manages to quote Chekhov and Talking Heads in the same breath?
He gave us a Master Class in writing fiction, using his own career as examples of what (and in some cases, what not) to do. And his recipe for taking our writing from B+ to A? Do more research; and have the courage to cut great swathes out of the early drafts. But, nothing is wasted, he told us. Throwing words away is NOT failure, it’s reconsidering. And his final words: just go for it, especially this week at Swanwick. Write as much as we can and don’t worry about how good it is at the moment.