Last year I attended Swanwick Writers School for the first time and I had one of the best weeks ever. I made great friends, had a lot of fun and learned a lot about writing. So here I am again, slightly tipsy, very tired and happy to be back at Swanwick.
My first day experience couldn’t be more different than it was last year. Last year I was so overwhelmed that I missed almost everything on the first day and was in bed by ten. This year I met a friend from last year at St Pancras and we travelled here together. Instead of the anxiety that I felt last year, I felt excited and relaxed. Swanwick Writers School could not make the journey any easier. We got off the train and there were people waiting to direct us to the bus to the Hayes (where the conference takes place).
We didn’t have long before the welcome talk but actually this year it wasn’t much of a problem because the check in process was so much quicker and more efficient than last year. The weather was lovely and the grounds of the Hayes are beautiful so after the talk we sat on the lawn and drank coffee (which is included in what you pay for the week,the week is literally all inclusive). We had a chance to catch up with friends from last year and meet some new people too. First timers have white name badges instead of yellow ones so it’s easy to see who they are. It was nice to be the person approaching newcomers rather than the person hiding in her room.
At dinner I sat with people who I had never met before which was great. I think it’s the nice thing about Swanwick, you can literally talk to anyone and you’re almost guaranteed that they will be friendly.
When I got back to my room after dinner, I found that one of the pipes in the bathroom had broken and there was a really huge leak. The water was coming out of the door. The people at the Hayes were so nice about it. They’ve had to put me in another room (with the possibility of having to change again tomorrow) but they gave me free fudge so that makes up for it!
I have now eaten the fudge.
The evening speaker tonight was John Lamont who gave an interesting (and evidence based) talk on how the way that we think influences outcomes. It was very thought provoking and an excellent way to start the week.
After a few drinks in the bar with new and old friends, I went to an informal session called What Are You Writing Now? Each person has the opportunity to stand in front of the group and talk for three minutes about what they are writing. Although public speaking is a huge part of my day job, outside of work I hate talking in front of a group of people. However, everyone else had done it and I thought it was only right that I should too. It was so interesting to hear what other people were doing, where they were at with their writing and how they had gotten there. I think the great thing about the session is that it really encouraged people to talk to each other afterwards and gave you something to talk about (not that having anything to talk about is an issue at Swaniwck, conversation just seems to flow here).
So day one has come to an end. I’m tired but happy to be back at Swanwick.