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Monday, 25 September 2017

#ScotsWrite17 was a blast

Two years in the planning but the Society of Authors in Scotland conference ScotsWrite was a roaring success although now it’s all over I have to admit to being a bit knackered.
ScotsWrite team meeting to plan the day ahead
Decked out in our royal blue tee shirts and/or sashes we were constantly on the go. My Fitbit, which monitors how much exercise I take and how many steps and miles I walk, almost collapsed with exhaustion. And at the end of each day, I also collapsed into bed thinking I’d never make it to breakfast the next morning. But I always did. Plus I had to be bright and breezy for the morning team meeting where we did our planning to ensure all the delegates got an amazing experience.

I think we succeeded in providing that amazing experience because there was a definite buzz during the conference and many demands for us to do it again next year. However, there were no plans to make this an annual event. It was meant to be a one-off and given the fact this conference was two years in the making the logistics would rule out another event of this nature next year. But it has planted the idea that this cannot be a one-off and that there might need to be thought given to a repeat in the future. I, for one, certainly hope it can be done again.

The registration desk is ready and we're raring to go

The conference started on Friday afternoon, but we were all there from early morning to tackle the tasks that needed to be done prior to the arrival of the first delegates. There was registration to set up as well as display boards inviting comments and discussions. Some of the organising team assisted by student volunteers tackled the mammoth task of packing the goody-bags. In fact, there was so much to do I did wonder at one time whether we would make our deadlines. But writers are used to deadlines and this was a conference organised by writers for writers. So everything was completed in time and the conference got off to a good start.
Three of our keynote speakers
Our lineup of speakers was outstanding. Many conferences have one keynote speaker but because we had a keynote speaker each day of the conference and two on Saturday, that meant we had four: Joanne Harris the author of Chocolat and other books; Jane Johnson who has been a publisher and is now an author; Charlie Higson who wrote the young James Bond books; and Joanna Penn, author-entrepreneur, who is an expert on all aspects of publishing and marketing. I managed to see and hear them all except for Charlie Higson because I was manning the registration desk which remained open the entire conference for any queries that might arise.
Denise Mina presenting her breakout session
Apart from the keynote speakers, there were masses of breakout sessions (workshops) all of which were excellent, and I had the honour of hosting Denis Mina at her session. She’s a lovely person as well as being a brilliant writer. Did you know she won this year’s McIlvanney prize for best crime novel? Other breakout sessions were presented by Caro Ramsay, Emily Dodds, Mary Hoffman, David Bishop and a host of others. We also had two Scrivener sessions and got a sneak peek at the new Scrivener Three which will be launched within the next few months. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.
Westerwood Hotel - ScotsWrite venue

Our venue was the Westerwood Hotel at Cumbernauld and as far as I am concerned it’s one of the best conference hotels around. The facilities offered included their own golf course as well as a spa but, of course, we didn’t have time to use them. As always, the food was delicious and I think I’ll have to diet for the next month to recover. Oh, and I can’t forget the ceilidh we had on Saturday night after the gala meal. It was a blast as well. The floor was packed although I managed to avoid most of the energetic dances like the eightsome reel and strip the willow.
Whooping it up at the ceilidh
I’m exhausted after all that and I’m off to lie down to recover now. You may not see me for some time!

Chris Longmuir

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