Arvon Foundation writing courses are great. They're quite expensive, and work you hard all week, but they also expose you to a range of new ideas and approaches, whatever your chosen field. I have done numerous Arvon courses now, and even taught on a poetry one myself, and I thoroughly recommend them, especially if you've hit a brick wall in your writing career. They're fun too and can be highly social occasions - though with plenty of alcoves, writing sheds and quiet spaces into which you can retreat when you've had enough company and just want to write.
Odd to think, looking at the photograph below and remembering all the hard work I did that week, that it may have taken five years, but I have now published a Young Adult novel. My week at Arvon was a gamble, but it eventually paid off.
I went in there with a half-written dark paranormal about Fallen Angels, a book I still haven't finished but may one day. In the end though I decided on a paranormal historical YA, and maybe that more unusual angle gave me the edge I needed in a competitive market.
|YA writing course 2007 at Arvon's Lumb Bank: Lee Weatherly and Malorie Blackman, tutors|
Here's what I wrote some time later, to accompany this photograph:
The Arvon Foundation: Lumb Bank, Summer 2007. That's me standing at the front on the far left, in case you weren't certain, looking a bit dazed; I nearly missed this group photo because I'd fallen asleep over my manuscript!
Tutors Lee Weatherly and Malorie Blackman are sitting at the front. Lee is grasping the bench with both hands, as though afraid it may fly away with her at any moment, with Malorie Blackman beside her, clearly less horrified by the lens.
On the far right, for some reason looking as though she only has one leg, is Bridget Collins, author of a debut teen novel due out from Bloomsbury this autumn under the name B.R. Collins.
This photograph appears courtesy of Claire McNamee.