04 Jul 2010

I’ve been spending the weekend at the most wonderful and tiny writing conference in the small town of Bowness on Solway in the northwest corner of England. It’s amazing what interesting and inspiring events take place in the hidden corners of the world. This conference cost £8 ($12) for two days of talks about writing, poetry readings, local theater productions, and local history lectures. It is by far the best bargain for a writing conference that I have ever encountered, and it came a long just at that three-week point in my journey when I am usually wondering if I’ve made a mistake going away from home again and if I going to regret the summer’s travels. But after this weekend, I am feeling refreshed and ready for more writing and knitting, a break to visit friends, and then a knitting conference where I will be teaching and speaking (UK Knit Camp) in Scotland, which is just across the water from where I was this weekend.

View of Scotland

Well my post has published itself before I finished writing. Let me tell you more about this conference, Writ on the Wall 2010, the second Bowness on Solway literary festival (festival website).

Festival Sign

Yesterday morning started out with a talk about writing for a living by local writer, Jim Eldridge. Jim’s been writing for decades, and has had a very successful career writing books and for television. He’s worked with the BBC, Disney, and other channels in the UK and in the USA. Jim also writes books, and has recently switched his focus to write more books and less for TV, given that there are so many reality shows and other junk on British TV these days (he said it, not me), and he felt like the opportunities to write for TV were becoming greatly diminished. This year he has about ten books coming out. Yes TEN. (I could possibly write ten short books in s year if they didn’t require knitting, travel, or procrastination.) Some are young adult fiction, others are genre novels for adults. His secret to making a living at writing is to write whatever people want to pay for. It’s a good plan if you can be interested enough in the writing projects to do a good job. I’m going to have to think about this a big more again. I always am inspired to think about how I can make more money writing when attending a writer’s conference. I have thought about writing for children and young adults before and I have also thought about writing in other genres. But until now, I have not been ready to stop writing knitting books. I can’t say that I am ready now, other, but I am ready to stop writing a knitting book every year and to take some time to develop other projects.


The second session I attended yesterday was on screenwriting, and the talk was given by local filmmaker, Russell Cherrington. Although I will never be a filmmaker in this life, I am working on some small video projects and, being a movie lover, I am always intrigued about the filmmaking process. Russell uses great big notebooks to work on his film projects. In the center of each page, he pastes a page of a book he’s adapting or a page of a screenplay he’s writing. All around the page, he writes notes, draws sketches, pastes photographs and adds anything interesting related to the material. I was very much inspired by this process, although I am not inclined to carry around giant notebooks, but I am going to look into creating more visual scrapbooks on my iPad. Although it as tactile and physically stimulating as an actual scrapbook, an electronic version is much more portable which is very important to me during this mobile phase in my life.

The last session yesterday was a poetry reading by Andrew Forster and Penny Boxall. I was particularly impressed by Penny’s poetry. The topics were down to earth and profound at the same time. Hearing her read each poem, I could visualize the sights she described and was transported into the worlds she created with her words. Listening to her read made me want to be a poet. I hope you’ll click the link on her name and read a few of her poems, and I hope she will have a book of her poetry published soon.

Workshop Location

Today I’ve been to a talk on Roman writing, both the physical implements and materials used to write, and the writings of various Roman authors about Britain, and a presentation about graphic novels. I’ve been inspired by every talk so far. Even when hearing from artists who work in different media than I do, I feel an affinity to the process of creativity and the love of creation, the sheer pleasure that comes from making something.

Hadrian's Wall Info

The last session I will be attending is a local ghost story. And then home for pizza, beer, and footy!

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