Monday, September 07, 2015

#FoW15 in words and pictures

It's the morning after the weekend before and, as ever, I feel jet-lagged, hung-over, culture-shocked (Real Life is WEIRD!) and, especially this year, very happy. Although previous years have been fab, it always felt like I spent a lot of time picking people up from the floor and handing them tissues. In some ways, that's not a bad thing. It shows how much they cared about what they do.

Back: Sophie Wellstood, Mandy Berriman Front: Jody Klaire, Katherine Hetzel, John Taylor
But here's the real point: those people who had dusted themselves off, who had taken on board the advice from their 1-1s, internalised what they learnt in the workshops and panels, and come back to the festie with sparkly new writing were the ones who, this year, had the affirmation they had worked so hard for. Time after time, I was approached by shiny-eyed people who had received really positive feedback from agents who want to see the whole MS. At least one, including my gorgeous mentee Mandy Berriman, was told by a top agent that they are 'really excited' by their stories. Another RL friend, Rachael Dunlop, faces the possibility of having to choose between several agents. Two Cloudie friends, Michelle Bromley and Hilary Taylor, were shortlisted for the Friday Night Live Competition and one, the fabulous Sophie Wellstood (who I first met when we accepted her submission for Stories for Homes) won the Opening Chapter competition.

The shortlisted authors in the Friday Night Live competition
 These are the competitions which have led to such runaway success in the past for authors such as Shelley Harris, Deborah Install and Jo Cannon. (Click the links to see their FoW stories.) And these are just a few of the people I know who were wearing ear-to-ear grins this time. Truly, my cup runneth over.
Andrew Wille, Deborah Install and Jenny Savill
When I stood in for Harry Bingham on Saturday night, I asked for a show of hands. How many people were festie returnees? I calculated approximately a third. When I asked our self-edit alumni to come up on stage for a group photo, I was blown away to see that about 30 of the 179 people who have taken the course so far were at the festival. These are the people who, by dedicating themselves to their craft and demonstrating their commitment to their writing, are now reaping the harvest of all that hard work.

A reminder that the self-edit course runs 4 times a year and consists of detailed tutorials to give you the tools of creative writing, and exercises which are based on your own WIP, thereby showing how to apply the tools to your own story. See here for some feedback and here for the syllabus and booking details.

Huge thanks to everyone who has tweeted, FBd and emailed their appreciation following the mini course, workshops and 1-1s. The Psychic Distance workshop was, as ever, the one that blew people's minds, even though it was the last workshop of a packed weekend. More than one person said the insights almost brought them to tears but then it was the end of a totes emosh weekend for all of us. Do check out Emma Darwin's blogposts on PD to get those synapses firing.

If anyone is itching for more writerly input before FoW16, I'll be running workshops at Verulam Writers' Get Writing Day on 26 Sept and also a one day Craft of Writing event in Exeter for The Place to Write on 10 Oct.

York Uni is a stunning setting
Some of the wonderful Writers' Workshop team

Delegates and pros trickling in
Jane Ayres and Moira Please, who run The Place to Write

Mandy Berriman and Janette Owen - natural storytellers

No caption needed. Well worth the indigestion

Craig Taylor at the controls

For the first time - a DISCO!
Discovering the magic of Psychic Distance
Happy birthday, WW!

One final thing, which I post while attempting to uncurl my toes. Several people had a go at me for not talking more about my own books and writing so I'm just slipping in here that Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana are now available as e-books and yes, I will try to get the next 3 out there too at some point. 


MandyB said...

The value that you add to people's writing and to their self-esteem as writers cannot be underestimated here, Debi. The common denominator in all these success stories is you :-)

Moira Please said...

A fabulous round up of a brilliant weekend Debi. So much enthusiasm and energy. And thanks for the mention! Jane and I had a great time and it was lovely to meet up with old friends.

John T said...

So happy you feel affirmed, Debi. If I think back over the many people who have helped me on my writing journey, you hold a special place for your combination of care, passion and energy in communicating knowledge. And not least, for your warmth. I predict that you will play a part in many more success stories.

Katherine Hetzel said...

I(t was a wonderful weekend - again! And you're a BIG part of the successes I see and cheer on from the sidelines, as well as helping me personally to gain confidence and skill in my storytelling. And yes please to getting your next three books out! Can't wait to read them...

BRIC said...

So sad not to be there this year, but wonderful to hear all the good news. You are a marvel! Tough love personified.

Sandra Davies said...

Sorry not to have been there this year Debi - a pre-booked holiday - but unsurprised by the list of folk you who credit you for at least spurring them to aim high, and enabling the, to be recognised when they do as the've been told.

Debi said...

You're all too too lovely. It's a privilege and a massive pleasure to be part of so many wonderful journeys.

Janette Owen said...

Thank you for the mention, Debi. It's no surprise that I join a queue of people who feel indebted to you for your immense support. I was one of the ones needing the hankies last year and, as ever, who should be there to supply them?

After your reassurances and advice, I took time to go over my notes, old and new, and start over. OK, so this year the book itself didn't attract agent interest ... bu-ut whenever I'm feeling those doubt demons creeping in, I'll pick up my report from Sam Copeland, and read his glowing praise of writing ability. Thanks, Debi. That simply wouldn't have happened without you.

Debi said...

All I do is help you write the book you want to write. Authors and editors are part of a team and I have the best partners. All of you are stars.

Rachael Dunlop said...

John put his finger on it, Debi. The common denominator for all these success stories is you. I'm one of those dust-yourself-off-and-start-again people from last year that you mentioned, and without your support throughout this entire year I wouldn't have got the encouraging feedback I did at FoW15.

Andrew Wille mentioned in his round-up blog for this year that the book doctors and editors were really impressed to see the shift from people thinking going to the Festival was all about snagging an agent to being much more focussed on learning and growing in their writing. The festival workshops, 1-to1s and all the chatting about our books that we do over coffee and lunch and a bottle (or several) of wine all get us further towards our goal of writing the best books we can. And where good writing goes, agents will follow!

Debi said...

Andrew nailed it in his blog. All too often, people fixate on getting published, instead of concentrating on honing their craft and writing fabulous books. As you say, that's a cart-before-horse mindset.

Debi said...

Andrew nailed it in his blog. All too often, people fixate on getting published, instead of concentrating on honing their craft and writing fabulous books. As you say, that's a cart-before-horse mindset.

Megan Calista said...
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lewis brown said...
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Dr Purva Pius said...
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The Place to Write said...

This is indeed great news Debi. I'm going to apply for a loan later on today after I've watched all my recorded Jeremy Kyle programs. The only problem is having to declare purpose of loan. My intention is to spend it all on scratch cards and Crunchies. Do you think this would be a problem?

Debi said...

Ha! That spammer is all over my blog like a rash. Hunting down all the comments to delete them. Pffft.