Missing Wordstock doesn’t have to mean missing out! You can now purchase 6 recordings from the day for the fantastically good value price of £20. With Christmas around the corner, it could also make the perfect gift for a fellow wordsmith.
Head over here to purchase our package of recordings: 4 x headline speakers (Esther Freud, Jessica Mookherjee, Sharlene Teo and Polly Bennett) and 2 of our workshops (Martin Lee and Ross Loveday).
If you need any more convincing, here’s a quick rundown of some of the sessions.
Towards the end of our interview, Esther talked about how she would go to any lengths to uncover and get close to her emerging characters. She described attending a constellations session at which she asked permission to write the lead characters’ story (which she got). Her whole talk was peppered with insights and revelations. She was open, candid and thoughtful, willing to tackle any subject. As many of her books revolve around personal situations and settings, this was a very revealing session.
Sarah Jane Butler’s warm, insightful conversation with poet Jessica Mookherjee expertly blended Q&A with readings that fizzed and sparked with energy. One gem which stayed with me: use your line endings to “light what you want to show”. And after hearing Jessica reading, I couldn’t leave without a copy of her book Notes From a Shipwreck.
Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti, offered an honest account of publishing a novel – from first notes to first edition. Her answers were refreshing and reassuring to any writers who may find themselves stuck. Her antidote to procrastination? Write as if your reader is dying!
The closing session with movement coach Polly Bennett was a revelation. Through show and tell (the side-by-side clips were something else!) she guided us through her process of working with actors to create a physical vocabulary that get to the heart of their characters – from Freddie Mercury to Elvis.
Martin Lee’s workshop posed the question: do you know the meaning of your words? What followed was an intriguing insight into decoding language through semiotics and discourse analysis. There were too many brilliant nuggets to summarise here, but one of my favourites was about how we use metaphors in everyday language, and how he vast majority of metaphors we use explain where we are in relation to other things.
He holds an abstract painting up and describes how his wife often turns it around 90 degrees, sometimes 180. She suggests he stops adding to a work, ”It’s done”. she says. He listens to Bernard Butler. Music creates an atmosphere. His mark-making is hectic, frenetic, comes in bursts. To hear an artist describe his process and daily uncertainty is so reassuring. If any of us want to write or create something, we all go through similar anxieties. But what painting and printmaking he produces! A jewel of a session.
It took me years to appreciate the depth of connection between mindfulness and creativity, but now it’s almost my mission to share what insights I can. The Happy Writing Book is one way; teaching groups is another way. In my Wordstock session, there were quite a few familiar faces, and many strangers. It’s hard to tell how people are feeling during a workshop that involves qi gong, meditation and creative writing, but the unprompted feedback during the day was really enthusiastic. Later, one person emailed to say: “I was blown away by some of the writing in your workshop. I’m sorry I didn’t read mine out, but I think the last time I read out what I’d written was at school! Perhaps next time.” Another emailed: “it was more time to think about writing than I’ve had in ages, and an internal reset.” Happy news. But maybe everyone was feeling generous because the entire Wordstock day was so positive, so inspiring and energising. I marvel that 26, starting with a budget of nothing, can produce such a brilliant festival.
Imagine a room packed with people, some of whom had wandered in not knowing what to expect. The first game Rob invited us to participant in was how excited or unsure we were about being here. The room contained a dynamic line from one to the other. Where were we on that line? The room spreads out and we talk to each other about how we feel. Before we know it, we’re off, in another game, moving in a whirlpool round the room, learning to notice more, use everything and let go of any pre-conceptions. Brilliant.