A few months ago, along with 19 other writers from Wales, I took part in the Hay Festival Writers at Work programme*
All 20 of us – here’s the full list – spent 12 hours a day together, over 11 days, in the ‘tent’ designated for our workshops, in the canteen and, most evenings, in the pub.
We chatted over meals and during coffee breaks. We discussed where we were from and the sort of things we wrote. We shared our nervousness and excitement about being part of Writers at Work and discussed the masterclasses we’d been to and the amazing insights we’d been given into the way internationally renowned authors work.
A few days into the programme I thought I was getting to know my fellow writers pretty well
And then we hosted the first of a series of events about Writers at Work. This was a chance to read our own work at Hay to an audience made up of the public – and each other.
It was a complete eye-opener
After the first few people had read their poetry or prose, it began to dawn on me that even after all the time spent socialising over lunches and coffees, only now was I being given the opportunity to really know them – to see their creativity and to understand what actually made them tick. And I realised that you can never truly know a creative person until you experience what they create.
Each writer came into their own as they took to the podium to showcase their work. They were in their element and it was remarkable to witness. There was such a breadth of fantastic writing on show, rich in diversity and totally inspiring. We had several sessions like this, and after each one I felt I knew my fellow writers so very much better.
So how do you really get to know a writer? Get to know their work. It’s the window into their personality, their soul and creativity.
Thanks for reading!
*Hay Writers at Work is a professional development course for writers from Wales. It’s the brain-child of Hay Festival’s Peter Florence, is funded by the Welsh Arts Council and run by Literature Wales. Author and educator Tiffany Murray is the programme co-ordinator.
Sara’s debut novel ‘Not Thomas’ – a story of child neglect, love and hope, shown through the eyes of five-year-old Tomos – is published by Honno Press in paperback and as an e-book, and is available to buy direct from the publisher, from Amazon and from bookshops.
4 thoughts on “How to REALLY Know a Writer”
I’ve been meaning to comment here for days! I love how you described this conference and how the writers’ work gave you unexpected glimpses into their personalities. I would be SUPER nervous to read my writing out loud, although it might sound better than the actual writing, LOL!.I admire you for participating in this conference!!! XoXo
Thanks for your comments, Dyane!
I was far more nervous reading in front of my peers on the programme than I was reading for the general public but it was such a worthwhile thing to do. I was pushed out of my comfort zone every single day but that did an awful lot to build up my confidence – I’d go back tomorrow!
Hope you’re having a great week xxx
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I have balked at going to a writing conference so far. I thought I wouldn’t be of the calibre of others and feel out of my depth. But your experience has made me think again. Happy writing😊
Go for it, Ellen – you would certainly not be out of place at all! You’d love it!! Happy writing to you too x