What’s in a name?

Welcome to the blog page of The Winchester Writers’ Festival.  Over the next few months you’ll see regular posts from myself and various guests on the life and craft and business of writing.

The blog’s name is taken from Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life. ‘Your work’ says Dillard, ‘is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.’

This statement always feels like a challenge – the good sort – to me, because while writers are a pretty diverse bunch, most of us face daily distractions.

First there are those non-writing tugs from jobs, family and friends.  Bills must be paid and chores must be done – writers need to live. Then there is the multiplicity of tasks that are peripheral to writing: blogging, tweeting, marketing, publicising – the list is a long one.

For some of us, research is all-consuming.  Then there are the temptations of good strong coffee or the view out of the window or purchasing that new external hard drive that’s guaranteed to make all the difference.  Added to this are the many books we really should read, for who can be a writer if they are not first a reader?

With all of this going on, it is extraordinary that anyone finds time to write: that is, to set words upon a page that have both meaning and feeling.  Yet when finally we sit down and the words come, line by hard-won line, when we find a voice or begin to glimpse a structure, there’s something else most writers start to wonder about.  Is the work good enough?  Will it reach real readers?

The Winchester Writers’ Festival supports writers on the path to publication in a number of ways. It provides three intensive days of workshops and talks with agents, editors and authors.  Whether you are choosing the traditional route with an agent and a publisher, or prefer the author-publishing option, the emphasis is on producing writing of the very highest quality.

Then there are the one-to-one appointments that set up those vital industry connections.  Writers, in my experience, must make their own luck in terms of getting that first break.  Booking a place at the Festival is a clear step in the right direction.

flywheelOur new blog complements the Festival for the remaining 362 days of the year. ‘Cranking the Flywheel’ is for those writing days when you aren’t networking or researching or attending workshops. Its purpose is to help you roll up your sleeves and keep ‘you and your desk in midair’.

Ideas often arrive quickly, but the process of turning them into a good poem or a short story or a novel requires care and focus and tenacity. When you seek a word of encouragement, look here, or leave a comment via Twitter. Writers work alone, mostly, yet we still need our own collective noun.

A hum of writers.  A greening of writers.  A vibrant, supportive, flywheel-cranking community of writers.