The 27th Winchester Writers Conference is over for another year leaving me and over 500 other writers exhilerated, encouraged, exhausted, and -even though it doesn't begin with an e, a little bit humbled. Barbara Large, indefatigable patron saint of penmanship, has once again pulled off an extraordinary feat: created an environment which is both inspirational and safe - a place where you can fly your dreams like kites and know that when you lament your struggles absolutely no-one will say 'Well I don't know why you're even trying.'
Worst bit of the weekend was my accomodation: a dark cell apparently air-freshened with eau de dead badger, and no hot water. Best bit was the people and the words. Two of my favourite talks gave advice to the jaded, Debby Holt on spinning those rejection slips into gold ("Don't be afraid to tease the reader" said Debby. "The reader needs to be seduced") and Kate Harrison who got us listing guilty pleasures and gave us media-stylee acronyms like SCAMPER to tackle writer's block. And I did like what Julian Rathbone said: "I would ask everyone to think, when they write, not just of technical aspects but to dig deep into themselves and find out's what's really there." Certainly the group I worked with did just that.
Back home, time to sift through notes and check out contacts. Kate's busy breezy website is great - lots of tips for writers as well as encouraging frankness about her own processes. Lorna Fergusson's blogspot has a good summary of the event, while WritersServices.com offers a wide range of options for new writers.
And now to something completely different: Peter was surfing the web for goldfinches - don't ask, I never do - and found this link, unexpectedly showing us beaming our way along the highland paths around Omalos.
And another link: Luke Wright, poet laureate in waiting, now hailed by the Observer as a rising star, who gets my vote for quote-of-the-week: "I've always been scornful of people who go to India to find themselves. If you've spent most of your life in Surbiton, your soul's unlikely to turn up in Goa.'