Monday, 24 February 2014

What You Learn on a Writing Weekend with the SAS - Liz Kessler

I am writing this blog from a train, having spent the weekend locked away in a hotel with forty wonderful children’s authors (all members of the Scattered Authors' Society, otherwise known as the 'other' SAS). And I have to say, it was a very lovely hotel to be locked away in, surrounded by trees and lakes and snowdrops.

OK, we weren’t actually locked away. We were all there by choice. And while I'm clearing up inaccuracies, I'm not in fact simply 'getting the train home'. I'm getting a...
  • Taxi to the station;
  • Train to London;
  • Tube across London;
  • Train to the airport;
  • Flight to Newquay (not because I’m a posh jet setter who normally gets around via aeroplane, but because train lines in and out of Cornwall are currently out of action due to the recent storms);
  • Lift home in a car.

I’m not saying all this in an attempt to impress anyone with my mammoth journey, but to show how much trouble I am willing to go to in order to spend a weekend with not only some of the finest children’s authors in the country, but some of the loveliest people to boot. (I don’t think I’ve ever used the expression ‘to boot’ before. I like it.)

In other words, it was a wonderful weekend.

As writers generally work at home on their own, you can perhaps imagine how we feel about getting together like this. It’s a bit like a group of work colleagues who have LOADS to talk about, but only get to hang out around the water cooler three times a year.

It’s not just a whole load of fun; you also learn things. So, here are ten things I learned this time.

1. Writers’ fortunes go up and down so much that we really shouldn’t worry too much when times are tough – or get complacent when they’re good. It’s probably all gonna look different when you come back and see everyone again next year.

2. The Scattered Authors’ Society will always support you in the former of those times and cheer for you in the latter.

3. Most children’s authors seem to have black swimming costumes.

4. Tim Collins is extremely good at coping with being surrounded by forty women (and is also very clever and very funny).

5. Anne Rooney is totally amazing at putting together huge amounts of interesting information and producing a fascinating PowerPoint presentation in the time it takes other people to sleep, have breakfast and brush their teeth.

6. Sally Nicholls will always be the winner if you get into a game of ‘How many people have you killed off in a single novel?’ (Unless you know anyone who has killed more than 45% of Europe.)

7. Malorie Blackman is, basically, wonderful.

8. If you get ten SAS members sitting in a bar at an event like this, you are quite likely to discover that you have 156 years' experience of the publishing industry around the table.

9. My A Level in Maths wasn’t all for nothing, as I managed to correctly work out the above without the use of a calculator.

10. When you’re running late with your blog post and haven’t got any ideas of your own, someone else will usually have a good one you can nick/share. Thanks Abie! 

(Please head over to Abie Longstaff’s sister blog today!)

MASSIVE thanks to the wonderful duo, Mary Hoffman and Anne Rooney, for working so hard to put together such a fab weekend. Hope to see lots of you around the water cooler again soon.

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Elen C said...

What fab photos, and what a fab list... jealous? Me? No, my face always looks like this...


Safe journey home!

Penny Dolan said...

Yes, a great weekend, and Malorie was such a joy! Thanks. Liz. Off now to read all of Abie's points over on Picture Book Den.

Heather Dyer said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Most envious!

Heather Dyer said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Most envious!

Nicola Morgan said...

It was wonderful! Lovely to see everyone. And still there were people I never spoke to at all - must change that next time! Thanks everyone, and especially Anne and Mary for their very excellent work. xxx

Miriam Halahmy said...

Fantastic - I feel very blessed to have been part of such a great weekend. Onwards and upwards feels so much easier now!! Great post Liz!

Jane Clarke said...

Yes, it was fab - hope it won't be too long before we get to meet up again.

Stroppy Author said...

It was *such* fun. And so wonderful to see you, Liz. I just wish it could have been longer. Juat as well it is so sunny today or I would have post-Peterborough blues.

And Malorie was magnificent:-)

rebecca said...

I had a plan to make sure I spoke to everyone this time but it just didn't work out as each person I stopped by held me entranced. I gleaned (nice word, must use more often), all sorts of interesting information and snippets for my snippet box. It was a wonderful week end and many thanks to Mary and Anne.

Caroline Green said...

What a fab post. Thanks Liz!

Emma Barnes said...

Brilliant post about a brilliant weekend, Liz. (Would just like to pooint out that my swimsuit is brown with white spots.)

Jackie Marchant said...

Great blog about a great weekend - and I'm impressed with how soon you wrote it!

Julie Sykes said...

Great post Liz and guess what? I left a comment ;)

Emma Haughton said...

Wish I'd been there-sounds fab!

Keren David said...

I wish I could have been there too!

Linda Strachan said...

Sounds like a great weekend. Determined to make it next year. Lovely post Liz.

Kelly McKain said...

Brilliant post, Liz, and brilliant weekend! xx

Katherine Roberts said...

You can fly to Newquay? I had better head down there next time I want to get to London... I'm also the wrong side of the break in the railway.

Sounds like a great weekend. But I have a rival for no. 6... Alexander the Great killed off a fair part of Asia in "I am the Great Horse" (numbers of dead listed at the end of each chapter).

Leslie Wilson said...

Sounds like a marvellous weekend! And I had been wondering how people were getting in and out of Cornwall. We took that line last March - when we had a lovely lunch with Liz and Laura in Saint Ives - and I remember how, on that stretch of line that is now washed away, the waves broke right over the train.