Morag Caunt attended our Writing for YA course in November with Lucy Christopher and Marcus Sedgwick. Here, she writes about the course and about her stay at Tŷ Newydd.
I’ve just returned last night from another amazing YA writing retreat. This was at Tŷ Newydd, former PM David Lloyd George’s beautiful last home. I had Lady Frances’ bedroom and they’ve even retained her original pink sink.
We were taught by two fantastic tutors, Lucy Christopher and Marcus Sedgewick. They challenged, supported, encouraged and made us delve into our creative self with a small group of eight very different individuals at varying stages of our creative journeys.
The very helpful friendly office staff and Tony the chef with his delicious meals and cakes, all made our stay so amazing.
Entertaining evenings from Marcus and Lucy, when they read from some of their own very diverse books, told us about their own individual writing journeys. On Wednesday our guest speaker Kiran Millwood Hargrave read from some of her books, with their beautiful prose.
We discussed films, books, SCBWI and music and of course on Friday evening we had the tradition of everyone in the group performing a reading of what they had been working on during the week. It is always so amazing to hear what your fellow writers have been working on, the variety of writing produced, and the smiles of encouragement from the tutors when they hear what you have written and listened to what they suggested.
For anyone who hasn’t managed to attend a day, weekend or week workshop, I do recommend them.
For me, now on workshop number 5, I have found each one very special because of the stage I was at. My first visit one made me realize I could be a writer. This past week I have been working on two of my short stories for my prison collection.
Tŷ Newydd, after a year off not writing anything due to family reasons, rekindled my love of writing. Most importantly both Lucy and Marcus questioned why we were writing, and what did we want to say? For me, who even wrote twice at 4am which is something I haven’t done for a long time, it was the confirmation that my writing to reach reluctant readers, teenagers from dysfunctional backgrounds. To stop sending off to well known publishers who don’t want to read YA short stories, because they can’t make any money from them, and just be content to write for the people who I am passionate about, who rarely get a chance to be encouraged to learn to read, like the prisoners, mental health, learning difficulties and youth drama groups.
I guess I’ll still keep trying…!