|The Stripe and St Alphege buildings|
University of Winchester
The conference, as I've said before, is as much about networking as it is about teaching and being taught. I met up with old friends - Sally Spedding, Adrienne Dines, Sophie King, Denise Watson - and met new ones like Della Galton. Not only did I teach, but I had the opportunity to sell The Chase: I'd just got it out in paperback in time. David Simpson of PG Wells was kind enough to sell it at the conference Book Fair. The rise of self-publishing as a valid means of reaching a readership continues: Amazon had a stand, writers were welcome to show their books and chat about their publishing experience on the 'red sofa', or at the Writer's Shed stand. There was a great atmosphere of curiosity and mutual support and interest - a real buzz.
He is self-disciplined: long ago he made a rule for himself that he would never let 24 hours go by without doing something to advance his cause. He told us 'tenacity is the key factor' and that 'the person for whom your career is super-important is you'. He revealed that writing a screenplay is 'a war of attrition' so you seek an ally, a director or producer 'who wants to make the same film as you do'. He demonstrated the luck-factor, telling us how his Oscar-winning screenplay for Gosford Park came about because Robert Altman couldn't find a writer for the film, then somebody happened to mention his name ...
He quoted actor Albert Finney as saying 'if you've got it, they'll find you', which is enormously reassuring, something for writers to cling to, even if it is perhaps an illusory comfort!
Julian's was a bravura performance, to which his wife made acerbic and witty contributions - especially when describing how she reads his work. Time ran out - plenary speeches at Winchester are always time-challenged! Over the years I've listened to some great writers/entertainers on that platform - Terry Pratchett, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Morpurgo among them - people with a charismatic combination of industry-knowledge, wit and passionate love of their profession. They come with love of story welded into their DNA. They pronounce from on high, but have experienced the lows. They entertain and inform, sending their audiences away both humbled and elevated.
|Barbara Large giving her farewell speech|
at the closing dinner
I returned to Winchester on the Tuesday after the conference, to run an intensive day workshop called Plot, Polish, Pitch and Promote - the title says it all! (Scroll down for more photos of the conference)
In part 2 of this post, I'll describe the summer schools I taught and how I made it into print three times this season.
The autumn/winter schedule of Fictionfire Workshops is on the website here: titles are Get Inspired, Stay Inspired; Let's Get Spooky; Plotting - What's at Stake?; Share and Support; Spiritual Journeys. In addition, Dr Pauline Kiernan will be guest-tutoring an exciting day course, Screenwriting Techniques for Novelists, on October 19th. I'll also be running my very first Simply Write Retreat on November 9th. The first workshop is on October 5th and booking for that closes on October 2nd. Full details of all of these and how to make your booking are at www.fictionfire.co.uk.
|The view from the new hall of residence - steps still under construction!|
|About to teach my Masters' Course in the St Alphege building|
|Adrienne Dines saying thank you to Barbara on behalf of us all|
|With Denise Watson, Sally Spedding and Nik Charrett at the closing dinner|