Fran Benson is a freelance journalist and copywriter based on the borders of Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. She writes legal, business and women’s interest pieces for a variety of publications and organisations, as well as short stories for the women’s magazine market and is writing her first novel – a mid-grade fantasy.
Fran was longlisted for the Penguin Random House mentoring programme in 2016 for her novel and is currently redrafting and editing it prior to submission.
I’ve just recovered from a weekend at the University of Winchester attending their annual writer’s festival. And what a weekend that was. it’s not often – read that as never – that I get to spend that much time focused on my fiction and it lived up to my every expectation.
Lemn Sissay was the keynote speaker – powerful, vibrant, funny and profound. He talked about how although we write individually, tucked away in our oneness, that writing is a team sport. And that’s the feeling I came away with from this weekend. Everybody supported each other. The speakers wanted us to do well – particular thanks to Adrienne Dines and Helen Dennis for brilliant workshops. I met up with friends and made new ones. And we cheered for those who had requests from agents for full manuscripts.
I think it was Helen Fields in her after dinner speech who said that Winchester Festival changes you. It sounded like one of those throw away comments which sounds good at the time washed down with a glass of pinot grigio. But you know, when the swirling blizzard of thoughts and ideas finally settled some time over the 48 hours since coming home, then I can say now that actually yes it does.
I have a new found confidence and I’m brimming with ideas and enthusiasm to take to my writing. I’ve already made some decisions that were just not in my consciousness prior to the weekend. My agent meetings went well – and they play a large part in the confidence I’m beginning to feel in myself – thank you to Felicity Trew and Ella Kahn for cheeriness and professionalism at the end of a very hot Saturday. But it was also the enthusiasm of all the speakers and delegates rolled into one that grows into something bigger than the sum of its individual parts.
I’m already looking forward to whatever package of speakers and events the organisers will be pulling together for next year and eagerly awaiting the email so that I can book it all over again.
You can read more of Fran’s blogs on her website: www.franbenson.co.uk