Writers at Work (at the Hay Festival)

Writers at work Hay FestivaYesterday I spent some time chatting to a group of writers who are attending the Writers at Work development programme, funded by Arts Council Wales. The programme helps young Welsh writers by providing masterclasses, workshops and networking opportunities with publishers, press and agents over the course of the Hay Festival.   

I chatted to Alys Conran, author of Pigeon (which has recently been translated into Welsh). She said that it was helpful to find out more about the way the publishing world works, outside of Wales. She also particularly enjoyed a workshop on writing for the radio, and was surprised to discover that radio stations actively search for new writers on a regular basis.

Many of the Writers at Work sessions are informal, basically just a chat with a well-known writer who can pass on tips and advice. They also get to attend social events alongside some of the big names.

There was a slightly surreal moment when I recognised Rebecca Parfitt (poet, short story writer and editor of The Ghastling magazine), who attended the same English and Creative Writing course as me at Aberystwyth University a good ten years ago. This was made even more surreal by the fact that Joao Morais, another of the Writers at Work, also attended the same course. It was so long ago that we didn’t remember each other well, but altogether a very strange reunion which shows just how small the world is.

Rebecca and Joao have both found the Writers at Work programme incredibly helpful. It has provided an opportunity for them to meet some of the “legends in the business”, writers who are willing to sit down and chat to them for an hour or so. They particularly enjoyed the session with Andrew Davies (who recently adapted Tolstoy’s War and Peace for the BBC) as he gave some really candid, practical advice.

Photo taken by Joel Keith-Hill