Hosted by Writing East Midlands, this was a fantastic event, held in the gleaming Portland Building set in the University of Nottingham’s beautiful campus on a gloriously sunny day.
Not only did I enjoy myself immensely at the Conference, but I met loads of interesting people and learnt a tremendous amount. So I decided to do a mini-series of blog posts this week, picking out tidbits from the conference and sharing some of the more memorable quotes.
Keynote Speakers, Writers Conference 2014
The opening session consisted of two inspiring talks, setting the tone for the day. The conference was opened by Jane Streeter, Chair of Writing East Midlands and an enthusiastic promoter of writers and books. She runs an independent book shop, The Bookcase, in the Nottinghamshire village of Lowdham.
Building a community of writers
The first speaker was Jon McGregor, who is Writer in Residence at the University of Nottingham and author of several novels, including his prize-winning first novel, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things. Jon spoke of the loneliness of writing and the importance of community, reinforcing the importance of events like this one where writers can get together.
Incidentally, he has a fantastic web site at www.jonmcgregor.com which is a good example of how an author can construct an interactive site.
Writing to make sense of the world
The second speaker was Matt Haig who has written for both adults and children. His adult book, The Humans, is a World Book Night giveaway title. (If you are lucky enough to be offered this book, grab it with both hands!) Matt gave a list of facts about the writing business that had us all laughing. He then switched to serious mode and gave us a very moving account of his struggle with depression, and how he started to write as a way of trying to understand the experience.
‘The world is a confusing place. We write to make sense of it’
But if that sounds somewhat depressing, you can always cheer yourself up by watching Matt’s amusing video on ‘How to be a Writer’.
After the opening session we could choose from a variety of ‘panels’ focusing on specific themes. It was difficult make a selection, as they all sounded interesting. But, given the fact that my work in progress has inadvertently turned into a children’s novel, I chose to go to the panel on Working for YA and Children. I will post my thoughts on that tomorrow.