Friday, July 27, 2012

Sunday Conference Feedback

This is the final instalment of my adventures at Penrith 2012. Normal blogging will resume next week.

Jane Wenham-Jones – What a Way to Earning A Living 

Whatever I expected of this first session of the day, it wasn’t what I got. It was better!

Jane is so entertaining she could do stand-up comedy. For an hour she regaled us with stories from her life (including her visit to Erotica UK, the time she appeared on Kilroy, and an unfortunate yoghurt and cucumber incident at an Egyptian spa) as well as the upsides and downsides of writing (including suggestions on how to avoid Writers’ Bottom).

There were some valuable suggestions to take away from this talk too. Jane said “nothing you ever do is wasted”. It is all material for our writing. Her whole career has been a knock-on effect, and she recommends we take every opportunity that arises, as we never know where it might lead.

Most uplifting of all, she says the best thing about being a writer (and I completely agree!) is that this is the one job in which every day could be the day your life changes, and in which anything is possible.

There’s a delightful report on this session on the RNA website here: What a way to earn a living

Anne Ashurst – Towards Zero (all about back story)

The title of this talk comes from an Agatha Christie book, Towards Zero, in which zero is the murder that is committed. The journey towards the inciting incident is what matters.

Anne held her audience riveted as she used example after example (including one of her own books) to illustrate the importance of back story and how back story can be drip-fed into the present story.

She also gave practical advice on using flashbacks, and effective writing processes to build the story before even setting pen to paper.

This was perhaps the most useful talk I attended at the entire conference. I have more detailed notes which I’ll gladly share with anyone who is interested – just leave your email address in the comments below.

Chaim Potok: “Everything has a past. Everything – a person, an object, a word, everything. If you don’t know the past, you can’t understand the present and plan properly for the future.”

Sonia Duggan – Getting to where you want to be 

I ended the conference with this workshop by life and writing coach, Sonia Duggan. My full report on this session is now up at the RNA blog, but for me the best things about this workshop was focussing my goals for the next few years and making a new friend. (Hi Brigid!)


  1. Thanks for this Romy, fascinating for all of us poor Cinderellas who couldn't be there!

  2. It all sounds fantastic! Thanks for sharing, Romy :)