Monday, 15 September 2008
A writers’ unconference
On 12th September 2008, I went to LitCamp – a writers’ unconference, held at London Metropolitan University. LitCamp was a space for writers to meet, talk, and share ideas and experiences. The day’s schedule included a range of events – panel discussions with publishers, editors, agents and other writers.
The unconference kicked off with an introduction by Dr. Sarah Law, poet and tutor at London Metropolitan University, followed by a prologue: DIY Book Publishing presentation by www.lulu.com/uk
I signed up for ‘Getting inside the editor’s head’, a discussion, which aimed to lift the lid on publishing, which it did, although one and a half hours felt too long. On the panel was Rosalind Porter, senior editor of Granta Magazine, Laura Barber editor of Portobello Books, Tom Chalmers Editor of Legend Press and agent Hannah Westland of Rogers Coleridge & White.
The afternoon sessions faired better time wise, starting with an hour panel discussion of 'Publishing in a digital age', but lacked structure and could have done with a chairperson’s input to direct the panels’ waffling.
One of the most practical and enjoyable sessions was ‘How to make a living while you write’. Led by Bridget Whelan, this 45 minute session was particularly insightful, comprehensive and inspiring. Look out for my forthcoming blog, where I list all the relevant websites that Bridget provided on how to make money while you write. NB: Bridget teaches at City Lit and Goldsmiths College, London. Her first novella A Good Confession is soon to be published by Severn House and she is also the author of a short book Make Money from Your Writing.
By now, I was getting full of the day’s unconference and a bit tired but attending a 30 minute session on Willesden Green Writers’ Group, brought me back on track. The Group was established in 1994 and won the Arts Council administered Raymond Williams Publishing Award in 2005 for their members' anthology, ‘The Monkey’s Typewriter’.
Although I have led a few writers’ groups in the past, I am considering starting one again and picked up practical tips for running a successful writer-led group. The group provide a 2 hourly weekly space for writers of all backgrounds and abilities to share/read their work and receive constructive criticism.
The final 30 minute session was led by author Courttia Newland, co-founder and editor of Talk Tales who inspired me with his perspective and encouraging views on the short story genre. Of particular interest was how he and Nii Ayikwei Parkes merged a short story Talk Tales’ live tour delivered using unique ‘sound-scapes’, which Courttia wasn’t sure was a good idea at first, but was pleasantly surprised at how successful this new venture was – the audience really liked it too!
By now it was 6pm and the evening session’s tone became more laid back and a drinks reception followed in readiness for short readings from LitCamp participants – a nice way to end the day.
On the whole, it was a good unconference and provided a ‘rare’ opportunity to meet publishers, editors and agents in an atmosphere where they’re away from their desks and telephones and are actually looking for fresh faces. I made the most of it!
London Metropolitan University:
Willesden Green Writers’ Group:
Tell Tales Short Story Anthology:
Publish Your Book:
Monthly Webzine of fiction, listings and reviews:
Tall Lighthouse – new poetry press: