I wanted to write this whole the experience was still fresh in my mind, so excuse my ever present over-enthusiasm! Off the back of a 7.5 hour drive (much improved on my 9 hour drive down there) I am still strangely alert and buzzing with excitement for my writing and joy at meeting so many wonderful people this weekend.
I’ll start by saying this was my first time attending the conference.
The distance has always been an issue for me, and I’ve had 2 years of quite intense illness after being diagnosed with 2 chronic autoimmune illnesses, so while those are valid reasons for not going, I decided this year that I wouldn’t let either factor defeat me and I’d make it along.
And I was NOT disappointed.
Having arrived into my Premier Inn at 12.30am on Friday night/Saturday morning (after said long drive) I crashed on one of Lenny’s infamous comfortable beds.
Indeed, I did have a ‘great night’s sleep’. Good job, Lenny and PI!
Sir Lenny Henry, P.I. – you’re welcome, Netflix!
Now that is established, what about the conference?
Well, it was kicked off in the very best way (especially for me, as a newbie) with a ‘meet your network’. It’s already well recorded in the annuls, but SCBWI Scotland is a magnificent group of people and meeting them was a warm, welcoming and wonderful experience. I felt so very comfortable (and I was VERY anxious about the weekend) with them and they were brilliant craic, with Justin and Elizabeth bringing along the Tunnocks!
Excuse my hair in the above picture…
I had 2 wonderful workshops on Saturday – firstly, a First Page workshop with 3 insightful views from Bella Pearson, Becky Bagnell and Benjamin Scott. Then onto the Magic of Inclusivity with the inspiring Aimee Felone and Selom Sunu – the passion with which you both spoke really touched me and I loved hearing Selom’s story of how he got into illustrating.
Then came THE HOOK!
4 brilliant performances – with nerves of steel – in front of a packed auditorium and 4 stellar agents. Being in the audience I could feel every word of the pitches and was physically tensing, willing each of them to perform wonderfully – and they certainly did!
The sight of 4 fully uniformed soldiers arriving on the stage, 2 of them brandishing bayonets worryingly close to the heads of the unsuspecting agents, was something else.
Well done to all 4 who were brave enough to stand up and take part, but special mention to fellow SCBWI Scotland writer Helen MacKenzie, who won with Hagstone!
The party was held in the centre of town and I was greeted in a warm, and unusual, fashion by the lovely Marie Basting, Lou Minns and Matt Killeen at the door and this was potentially my favourite part.
I got to meet a whole bunch of friends (online) and new writers who I’ve never spoken to before.
I was sensible and went home at 11pm when it wrapped up…I *believe* many others stayed out partying late and having a great time!
I loved the start of Sunday, with the awards for the volunteers – so well deserved with the time they put in – and also enjoyed a talk from Society of Authors about writers rights. Worth signing up to them, published or not.
Sadly, I had to depart early this time and so missed the afternoon activities on the Sunday, but I am certain they were awesome.
I guess, what I am trying to convey, in a somewhat imprecise and not at all succinct way (a good trait for a writer) is that it was a wonderful overall experience. As with almost anything in life, it’s the people that really matters, and this is a good bunch.
I’ll definitely be back next year and have already started convincing others to come along, too.
Thank you to everyone at SCBWI conference team for the work you did in putting everything together and for a great experience.
May the Force be with all of you…for now and always.