Festival of Writing in York


By SWG member Paddy Kelly

I journeyed to York this year for the yearly Festival of Writing (FoW). The festival is three days of workshops, lectures, social events and 1-to-1 sessions with some of the leading people in the UK publishing industry. It is held on the campus of the University Of York, a two-hour train ride from London, and is now a major writing festival in the UK.

I found my three days in York incredibly useful - uplifting, fun, educational, inspirational. To be submerged so completely in this slightly odd hobby, with other people who take it just as seriously, was pure joy. The workshops and classes I took were all excellent, the social events were friendly and welcoming, and the chance to meet agents and publishers, as well as other writers, all in their natural habitats, was priceless.

Every year the FoW holds a contest called "Friday Night Live" where writers submit any 400 words they have. The best seven are selected to be read out by the author in front of the entire assembly, a crowd of two hundred people, including some major players in the publishing industry. And this year, my piece was selected.

Reading to a crowd isn't something I mind doing (I guess I'm just an exhibitionist at heart) and it seemed to work. In a close vote, I took second place, and for a couple of minutes I had the ear of every agent in the room. No deals resulted, as the book I read from isn't finished, but the person who won already has a agent. And for the rest of the weekend, I was known as "leprechaun man", due to the presence of those beasties in my text. And I must say, despite the leprechaun thing, that I kind of liked my brief weekend of fame.

The contest was a head-spinning start to the weekend, but everything else was nearly as good, and I've never met a nicer bunch of people. I learned a whole lot and my twitter connections have swelled nicely. I'm already looking forward to FoW 2015.