It had taken a long time to get to this point. Many years wasted, wishing on the ‘never going to happen’ star. Followed by many years of gentle hints that I might possibly wish to forgo the annual cold wet camping/sailing holiday with the family and pop over the hill to Swanwick. Now the family were older, Sexy Sporty Dad in a moment of madness suggested I book my holiday and the family could fend for themselves for a week.
Irrevocably in to my dream week before he had the chance to think about what he had said; let alone change his mind.
So here I was all alone in an alien world not knowing anyone. I had to leave my room sometime. Bravely shutting the door on my haven I followed the noise of a few chatty people outside. Delaying any moment of verbal contact I held the door for a lady a few steps behind.
“Oh you’re a white badger”
“Yes” I replied surprised at the childlike reticence in my voice; wondering what initiation I would trigger.
“How is your room? Do you know anyone?” my terrified shake of the head gave me away. “Come with me and we will get some tea.” Suddenly I had a friend. With our tea we met other members of her lovely writing circle who had come as a group for years. I was embraced like an old friend by others eager to meet past friends and develop new ones. I was no longer the frightened imposter who had arrived but an hour ago. I was part of the crowd, part of the magic, I was a writer.
That is Swanwick all over; always a friendly face to guide you, a supportive word to encourage you and interested contemporaries to inspire you.
The welcome reception for white badgers gave me the opportunity to mingle with committee members, fellow white badgers and a few regulars on hand to guide and include. A glass of wine softened any remaining doubt that I was gate crashing a private party. More relaxed I was able to answer questions about my lack of published work. I explained I was editing a novel which I hoped to get published and found I was not the only person in that position. I summoned the courage to tell of my blogging and early tweeting experiences to people interested in my attempts, not only my successes.
The program I had been sent would be my bible for the forthcoming week. I would refer to it countless times a day. I wanted to do everything, I wanted to experience everything, I didn’t want to miss a moment. I can see why people come back time and time again, there is so much on offer all crammed into just one week. Many workshops clashed, I couldn’t possibly do everything. I wasn’t even sure I could cope with the pace to do all that didn’t clash. Days would be filled with workshops; learning, interacting, discovering in my own special world.
One special event took place when I met with my 1 to 1 specialist. I had agonised and anguished for many hours before anxiously sending the first 3000 words of “Memories”. Would she like it, would she be the first to realise I am not meant to be a writer, would she critique it so much there is none of my beloved story left? Self-doubt and regret at signing up for such close scrutiny both clouded and dulled my passion for my story. I went to meet her all the same.
The most positive 20 minutes of my life.
She encouraged me, she advised me and she loved the story. As the moments passed I became bolder asking questions about publishing and e-books. I wanted to know where to go next. Two simple words will ring in my ears for the rest of my life. “Comercial Potential”! Her suggestion was that I should finish writing in the extra character and then get it professionally looked at and in the meantime think about getting an agent.
An agent. Never in a million years had I imagined being in a position to get an agent. What does an agent do, why are they more effective than just sending it off to any publisher? I was now on the threshold of that next scary, exciting, wonderful step of the journey. I attended the course on “Editing your Manuscript” given by an Agent, who answered my questions before I even asked them. She answered many I had not got round to thinking about and left me with even more to explore.
From that point on, nothing was going to detract from the pure magic of my stay in Derbyshire. Although to be fair the culmination of so many heightened emotions the enchanted atmosphere was going to be hard for me to dent.
Inspiration, I got not just from the workshops and fantastically diverse but talented speakers but also from the supportive and understanding Swanwick family. We all write, in such distinct and different genres but we all use words. We all have aspirations and goals within our writing world and with my new friends I will take away the courage to follow my dreams.
The end of the week draws close and I must remember the love, the joy and the passion these people gave me as I must return to the outside world.
check out my cooking blog at tea-time treats