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.
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
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.
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.