In the words of the organisers; 

“Writing West Midlands is the Literature Development Agency for the West Midlands.”

“We focus on work to develop opportunities for writers, including supporting young writers and building audiences for writing. We exist to help good writing and literature activities flourish in the West Midlands.”

(Event held at South Birmingham College, Saturday 20th November 2010)

This was the first time that I had attended a Writers’ conference in The Midlands, though it was their third gathering; I have always had to travel further afield as I didn’t realise there was such a vast and enthusiastic pod of writers in my area (what is the name for a group of writers?? Suggestions in the comments box please). I came across the conference details purely by chance whilst reading about funding information on The Arts Council UK website; i’m so glad I did!

The event is organised by and hosted by Writing West Midlands; Jonathon Davidson, Chief Executive and Sara Beadle, Director. The day is extremely well organised and thorough, covering a wide range of topics with each Panel Session. They welcome writers of all kinds as well as publishers, agents, producers (Radio, Film and TV), teachers and literature development workers.

The Panel Session Topics were as diverse as they were informative: Writing for Broadcast, Real Writing Lives, Writing and Reading in the Mental Health Sector, Different Fictions, Understanding Publishing, Creative Writers in Schools, The Rights of Writers, Doing Digital, Writing and Science, Writing in Places, The Future of Theatre Writing, Building Audiences for Poetry, Creative Writing and Higher Education.

The speakers / panel members for each session appeared to be both enthusiastic in promoting the aspiring writer / established writer, and encouraging and forthcoming with help and advice. The question and answer sessions at the end of each panel member introduction (of which I seemed to dominate slightly) were helpful and stimulating. Not wanting to come across shy or self-promoting (ahem), I made sure that I asked any questions which I thought could potentially help others, I hope that this worked!

The keynote address: No Messages, Jim Crace, novelist, was humorous and enlightening. I am ashamed to say that I had never heard of Jim but have now ordered some of his books from Amazon!

Book Titles: Continent, The Gift of Stones, Arcadia, Signals of Distress, Quarantine, Being Dead, The Devil’s Larder, The Pesthouse.

The Closing Address: The Writer’s Smoking Jacket, Graham Joyce, author. This was an informative and concise speech by Graham and opened my eyes to many possibilities and opportunities.

Book Titles: The Devil’s Ladder, Simple Goalkeeping, Do the Creepy Thing, Memoirs of a Master Forger, The Limits of Enchantment (and many, many more!).

In conclusion, I would recommend that you look for future events held by Writing West Midlands and come and connect and socialise with “others in the business of writing”.

http://www.writingwestmidlands.org

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