And in the blink of an eye, it was gone. Like the shooting stars of last weekend, the Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick flashed into view, shone brightly and then disappeared. All was quiet when I slipped out of the Hayes at 6am this morning, and now, after a 240 mile drive home, I can pull together my closing thoughts.
The weather was kind to us for once, as it has been for most of the week, and we gathered on the lawn for chatting, the odd glass or two, and a stirring rendition of Jerusalem. There were long dresses, sparkly trousers, DJs, kilts and some wonderful shoes! But also, there were jeans and tee-shirts. No-one judges; everyone pleases themselves. Which pretty much sums up the atmosphere through the week.
The Page to Stage ‘Swannies’ were awarded; the prizewinners for crosswords and quizzes (all too fiendish for me to complete) were announced; as were the results of the ‘Writing for Competitions’ competition. And the Top Writers took to the stage to say how much they’d enjoyed the week and to thank Jonathan Higgs for looking after them so well. Then Cathy Grimmer said her thanks and goodbyes before handing over to incoming Chairman, Phil Collins.
We had a reprise of some favourite moments from buskers night including, of course, ‘We Will Write 500 Words’ and ‘The Wild Writer’. Cathy came back on stage to lead a spirited rendition of ‘Reach for the Stars’ – yes, even S Club 7 featured in this packed week – and it all came to a close with a Swannified version of ‘We’ll Meet Again’.
At a quick get-together yesterday, we agreed the details of the anthology being compiled in Katy Clarke’s name, with all proceeds going to Rowcroft Hospice. And Zana and Fiona displayed their unicorn-related finds. (Even mythical beasts have to eat sometimes.) The book will be out in November and we are hoping all Swanwickers will have a least one friend or relative for whom it would be an ideal Christmas present.
Did We Have Too Much Fun?
It might be possible, looking at the pictures of parties, plays, star-gazing and the like, to think the past week has just been a bit of fun, a bit of a holiday. But that would be to discount the courses attended, the short stories drafted, the novels plotted, the ideas brainstormed, the networking, the contacts made, the writing groups set up, the books bought and sold, and the continual hubbub of nearly 300 people having writerly conversations. It’s been a great retreat, and I know I’m not the only one who’s starting their writerly year newly enthused, with ideas bubbling over and a clear set of objectives.
Only at Swanwick would I find myself saying: just another 51 weeks until we meet again!