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 Pauline Mason

Swanwick Writer’s School has been happening at The Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire each summer for 67 years. I first heard the name when my mother came in the early years, with members of Nottingham Writers Club.

I never thought in those days that eventually I too would become a regular Swanwicker and indeed I was over sixty and recently retired when I first attended this magical week.

Creative Writing in Retirement

I was interested in using my new freedom from work to write a memoir and perhaps to venture into writing short stories and novels. So when my two cousins invited me to join them at Swanwick I accepted not really knowing what to expect. Well, dear reader, I was hooked from the very first day and have been going every year now for almost a decade.

“So what’s so great about Swanwick?” you ask. Here are five reasons for its popularity

First, it’s a magical week because, although there are up to 300 people there of all ages and very varied descriptions, there is one thing that absolutely everyone has in common and that’s writing. Not only that but, even if you have never written a creative word in your life, you are sure to be a reader and we are told all the time that great readers make great writers. Everyone is totally committed and very enthusiastic.

Swanwick Magic

Second, there is a magic in the air at Swanwick, which makes everything feel interesting and shiny. A grouch would definitely feel out of place and would probably stop grouching. Helping to create this feeling is the Swanwick kitchen which produces breakfasts, lunch and dinner served at communal tables, and cakes with both morning coffee and afternoon tea served by efficient, smiling staff.  Special diets are catered for and if there is something missing you only have to ask and they will produce it if at all possible.

Accommodation at The Hayes

Hayes Swanwick

  The Hayes

Third, The Hayes is in a lovely countryside situation with beautiful lawns and a lake. All the rooms are very comfortable. There is covered level access to lecture rooms and the dining hall, so mobility scooters are no problem and there are some rooms with a rail in the bathroom and other facilities to help the disabled. 

Varied and interesting Courses and Workshops

Fourth, the courses and workshops are always varied and very well constructed. Specialist Courses run for four days so that you can really get into a topic and have some continuity. Then each day has a different selection of Short Courses and Workshops, including writing sessions and practical advice. Topics are varied and include Novels, Poetry, Life Writing, Script Writing, Crime Fiction and other genres.

Evening Entertainment

Hayes Swanwick

Pre-dinner drinks

Last, but definitely not least, is the daily evening entertainment. Each day after dinner there is a speaker, usually someone well known in the literary world as a writer, agent or publisher. Afterwards, there are choices including Poetry and Prose Open Mic sessions, a Busker’s Night, a Quiz, Plays or a Fancy Dress Disco. You can also sit in the comfortable lounge bar chatting to new friends (or catching up with old ones). For this year’s programme, take look at the website and see the reasonable cost of this wonderful week’s holiday. 

Come and join me this year - you won’t regret it, I promise!

Meet The Author...
Pauline Mason
Who Am I?

Pauline has had two careers: one in business in Nottingham and the other teaching Women’s  Studies and Feminist Theory online for the University of Maine. The changeover from business and academic writing to creative writing has been a long process of education and Swanwick Writer’s Summer School has been her mentor, tutor and inspiration for the past few years.

Her ambition is to write literary fiction drawing on her experiences of life and study in Eastern Europe where she got an MA in Gender and Culture from the Central European University in Budapest. She has translated and edited a memoir about life in Stalin’s Gulag written by an Armenian woman, which will soon be published. Pauline is now editing and re-editing her third novel, writes short stories and has recently become enthusiastic about writing poetry.

This year Pauline has taken on the job of Secretary to Swanwick Writer’s School and is enjoying the work, although it doesn’t leave a lot of time for her other pursuits of yoga, gardening, writing and painting. Her retirement is certainly an active one!



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