I spent last weekend in Bangor at this year's Great Writing Conference. It is the 6th year I have attended and it keeps calling me back. For an associate lecturer in particular there is something wonderful about spending such a block of time with Creative Writing colleagues, discussing all the things that interest you.
There was a great variety at this year's conference, from creative work by poets such as J. Matthew Boyleston and story-writers Sam Francis and Philippa Holloway; pedagogical work by Kate North and, well, me; discussions of work in progress from the likes of Andy Thatcher, Brooke Davis and Heather Richardson; and theoretical explanations from Nigel McLoughlin, Simon Holloway and Anthony Caleshu. Everything I saw was interesting and stimulating and has sent me back to my desk with my mind whirling with ideas and plans.
It's a tiring weekend, partly because of the many papers which you cram into your head, swelling your cortex with new information, but also because of late nights and beer-soaked conversations. But it is a wonderful experience that feeds me as a writer, a teacher, a thinker and, at quite a basic level, as a person.
And this year I have come away with two projects which wouldn't have happened without the conference. The first is a short story which has been requested for a journal - about which I shall blog more at a later date - and the second is an idea for an article which was inspired by the conference as a whole. There was a feeling to the conference that the tribe of Creative Writing academics have started to grow tired of forelock-tugging with regard to the English Dept.s that spawned them, and are finally standing up straight and proud. There is something there worthy of investigation, I just need to work out what it is. More on that when I've worked out what it all means. But in the meantime, Say it Loud: I'm a Creative Writer and I'm proud!