Monday, 14 July 2014

Love, learning and laughter; RNA Conference 14

Picture the scene: it's July 2012. An eager, nervous New Writer Scheme member arrives at an agriculture college in Penrith filled with trepidation and hope. This is it! A whole weekend of writing chat, one to ones and a chance to finally meet some of the people she's been chatting to online for the last two years.

I can see me now; bright-eyed, notepad and pen in hand, ready to absorb as much from the workshops, panels and talks as I could possibly cram in. I came away exhausted, inspired, full of cake - and I knew I still had so much to learn...

Two years later I arrived at a different agricultural college for this year's RNA Conference. I might have finally achieved my dream but I still have as much to learn as I did back in Penrith. I'm not alone - each talk and workshop was filled with writers at all stages of their careers whether brand new NWS members or multi published household names. 

There were some truly brilliant talks this year from the scientific - Nikki Logan on the Chemistry of Reading; the terrifying but essential - Claire Mackintosh on self promotion; the thought provoking - Pamela Hartshorne/Jessica Hart on the perils of two identies; and the inspirational - Janet Glover on the importance of place. I hope some people also enjoyed my own ten minute stint in the Mills & Boon workshop; I like to sum it up as 'Me, me and more about me'. The panel on the future of associations was interesting with a rousing exhortation for us to be proud of who we are and what we write. Hell, yeah!

 Other highlights included drinking prosecco on the lawn the first sunlit evening whilst chatting to the lovely Mills & Boon authors, catching up with my very first crit partner, Jane O'Reilly, and plotting a linked series with Sophie Pembroke and Scarlet Wilson. I'm really excited about this story and can't wait to get started.

Sadly Rowan Coleman had to cancel her workshop and Julie Cohen took a year off. They are known for their intelligent and exciting teaching and I can't wait for November when I will be taking full advantage of their weekend retreat to absorb as much as I can. I believe there are a couple of spaces still available so if you can I do urge you to book on. Every year the conference teaches me how much I don't know and this will be an amazing opportunity to learn from the very best...

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