#Swanwick69: ThursdayToday is the last full day of the Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick. The last few courses; the AGM; the Dregs Party and the Farewell in the evening. I’m going to leave the last two on that list until tomorrow. For now, a few reflections on the early part of the day.
I’ve been thinking a lot about characters this week. Yesterday, in the Hero class, I worked in a group to invent a new one and gave her a whole journey. Today in Simon Hall’s great two-parter on Advanced Characterisation, I’ve been working on Charlie Jones. She’s well-known to me and has already appeared in two of my novels, but in today’s sessions I got much deeper into what makes her tick. And I believe she will be much stronger in novel three as a result.
This is a brief, but necessary part of being a charity. We greeted our new committee, each of whom was nominated and elected unopposed. We agreed two changes to the constitution, relating to eligibility for committee membership and length of tenure. We were advised by retiring secretary, Pauline Hallam Mason, that any special requirements for next year should be noted on the booking form, and that early booking is advisable, given that a) we were fully subscribed this year and b) next year is our 70th Anniversary.
Treasurer, Lesley Deschner, gave us some stats to back up the narrative: 287 delegates of whom 92 were first timers; and break-even reached in mid-March, rather than the more normal July. And the 1:1s, donated by tutors and other specialists made a significant addition to the pot.
A Blast from the Past
One of the delights of this week for me has been reconnecting with Judy Hall, whom I met during my first year at Swanwick in 2006. Whereas I’ve been ten times in the past eleven years, this is the first time Judy has returned. It was a very different Swanwick back then and we’ve had some giggles reliving some of our memories as part of a group of white badgers who got the reputation of being ‘the naughty corner’ of the dining room.
I found a piece I wrote, recording my impressions of that first week. Some of the comments were possibly libelous, but a couple are suitable for reproduction here: a reflection from me that “it’s a bit like being back at school; I’ve just been called a ‘good girl’ for finding my way around.” And a genuine comment overheard in the queue for the dining hall: “It’s much better when the weather is good. People sit outside in the sunshine drinking wine or doing IKEA on the lawn.”
Only at Swanwick would we hear of a famous writer being banned from two primary schools for using the ‘F’ word in one of his titles – and no, it’s not that ‘F’ word!