Last month I attended my first writers conference.
Held at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, the Northern Lights Writers Conference promised inspiring talks on the job of writing and the future landscape of being a writer.
The keynote speaker was Joanne Harris, known as @Joannechocolat on Twitter due to her arguably most well-known novel, that wound up as a feature film starring Juliette Binoche in 2000.
Now, this is the part where I have to admit I’ve never seen Chocolat (I’m not a Johnny Depp fan) or read any of Joanne Harris’s books. I do follow her on Twitter, she is remarkably down to earth and uses Twitter socially, as it was designed, which is hugely refreshing in itself.
I found her keynote encouraging and inspiring, the fact that she is from Barnsley and still lives there, I think speaks volumes about the sort of person she is.
Joanne is very quotable, here are some I noted down on the day;
- On being before your time, “When it doesn’t fit into a genre, it can mean it’s just so new that publishers don’t get it”.
- “Don’t settle into a comfort zone, you end up being trapped in one genre”. And in a similar vein, “Be afraid of the safe option. When there is a risk, there is a challenge and the personal rewards are greater.”
- “Nothing that you write is ever wasted”.
- When talking about why writers write when the income is most likely going to be low, “For something that sustains us, we are spinning straw into gold. Stories stimulate imagination, foster empathy and connection, make the reader ask questions about their world and allow the reader to feel unique again”.
Of course, the day wasn’t all about Joanne 😉 although I do plan to pick up a copy of Chocolat soon!
There were panel discussions on writers pay, performing your writing, writing for radio and pitching your idea to an agent. Some of these were on at the same time so I couldn’t attend everything, but the ones I did manage to get to were informative and useful.
On a personal note, I was fighting my imposter syndrome on the morning of the conference. But as it turns out, so was everyone else I spoke to. It was brilliant just to be able to talk about my book with a variety of people who were as equally thrilled to talk about theirs. Not giving too much away of course!
I believe this is the 5th Northern Light conference and I’d really recommend it. See you there next year?
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