It's not just a book thing!
Serving as both a reminder of last year’s litfest as well as an appetiser for next year, author, poet and musician Louis de Bernières made a whirlwind return to Guernsey to host two events in the space of fifteen hours.
On Friday night at the Performing Arts Centre, Louis handed out the awards for the Write Stuff competition before bringing Christmas early with a festive ghost tale. After a short interval he accompanied excellent local group The Ukuladeez on his homemade lute / mandolin hybrid, then it was on to readings from his book of poetry Imagining Alexandria: Poems in Memory of Constantinos Cavafis, before a short question and answer session.
For those of us aspiring writers who had more questions to put to Louis, there was the opportunity to attend a Saturday morning roundtable at Les Cotils.
It was an interesting set-up. Steering away from the more traditional structure of writing exercises and critiquing sessions, we were told to:
“Expect more seminar than workshop – participants should arrive prepared to ask questions. “I won’t be Mr.Celebrity but rather first among equals,” says Louis de Bernières. Writers at any level, and anyone interested in the process of writing, is welcome. We hope for a lively exchange of thought.”
We were not disappointed. Fuelled by the fact that the event attracted writers of all kinds – novelists, non-fiction authors, poets, journalists, songwriters, politicians, copywriters, self-publishers and those who wrote for their own pleasure – there was plenty to discuss.
So, I won’t go into too much detail – to some extent what is said in the workshop stays in the workshop. A range of topics were covered, including: the value of literary agents, getting to know your characters, the lost art of faction, the practice of doing just enough research, the difficulties in switching between different disciplines, the importance of walking to clear the mind, the importance of reading lots and reading well.
Louis was a very generous and honest host, happy to answer any questions (apart from ones about his new book) and did not hold back on giving opinions which may have contradicted our own ideas. And despite the session being scheduled to finish at half past eleven I think it was about one o’clock before I left.
The programme for May 2014 has yet to be announced, but there are certain to be plenty of opportunities to attend similar workshops. It’s difficult to stress how valuable these opportunities are for aspiring writers – so if that’s you, keep an eye out for the announcements, find the workshop(s) that best match your ambitions and sign up. They really are fantastic opportunities to learn, exchange ideas, get feedback and meet other writers.
Posted by Ric Carter