Writing is, by its nature, a rather secluded and solitary pursuit which, for the most part, we writers do actually enjoy. But, occasionally, we also like to embrace a bit of companionship as part of our writing lives. This might involve joining a writing group or taking a course (see my previous 2-cents-worth on that subject).
Or what we might do is take advantage of the many festivals that happen around the country for writers. Besides getting to be in the presence of literary greats and attend workshops and seminars, it allows us the opportunity to network amongst our kin, make friends and maybe even sow the seeds of future collaborations.
Say the word ‘festival’ to any writer in Ireland and they will naturally think of Listowel. The Listowel Writers Week has been around since 1970 and is recognised as the foremost event in Ireland’s literary calendar. This year, the festival will be joined by such luminaries as Thomas Keneally, Dermot Bolger, and one of my crime-writing heroes, Gene Kerrigan. There will also be a number of events relating to The Gathering, making the 2013 Writers’ Week as enlightening, exhilarating and fun as ever.
Closer to home – well, my home anyway – is the Dublin Writers Festival, happening in the middle of May. Best-selling author Dan Brown will be opening what I’m sure will be a fantastic festival taking place at some great venues throughout the city such as the National Concert Hall . So far, there only seems to be a couple of events finalised but a more detailed programme will be announced over the coming days.
For those of us interested in the rare skill that is travel-writing, the Immrama Lismore Festival of Travel Writing in June is the one to be at. This is a feast of all things travel-writing-related and this year features Tony Wheeler, the founder of travel guide behemoth The Lonely Planet. Joining him at Immrama will be Jan Morris who, among other things, climbed Everest with Hillary and Tensing, and Dubliner Mary Russell who will be talking about her travels through war-torn Syria.
Somewhat further afield –the UK – there are two upcoming festivals worth mentioning and definitely worthy of the trip. The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writers Festival (there’s a mouthful) in Harrogate is a must-see for any and all crime writers or even crime-fiction readers who might like to see their heroes in the flesh. This year’s festival in mid-July will play host to such luminaries as Lee Child, Kate Atkinson and Ruth Rendell.
The London Screenwriters’ Festival has become, in its few years in existence, The Event for both established and emerging film and TV writers. A fast-paced three-day weekend incorporating seminars and round-table chats with industries-leaders, plenty of opportunities to network with fellow screenwriters from around the world. The festival doesn’t happen until October but anyone interested in being there should get their tickets early (if for no other reason to avail of some pretty hefty discounts).
Speaking of festivals a bit further away, November will hopefully see the return of the Shore Writers Festival, the brainchild of Wordlegs’ Elizabeth Reapy. 2012 was the maiden voyage of this free-to-attend festival and it was voted one of the highlights of the year by everyone who attended, myself included. A very chilled weekend in Enniscrone included some seminars and workshops but the stand-out events were the two afternoons of ‘open-mic’, when anyone brave enough could get up and read their writing to the energetic and enthusiastic audience. The plan definitely seems to be to repeat Shore towards the end of 2013 – hope to see you there!
The Long-Standing Listowel.
In its 43rd year, the Listowel Writers’ Week returns on 29th May.
“If you can imagine spending 4 or 5 glorious days in the literary capital of Ireland, surrounded by like-minded writers, composers and dreamers, then Listowel Writers’ Week is the place for you!”
And In The Capital?
Dan Brown will be in Dublin on 20th May to help launch this year’s Dublin Writers’ Festival.
“The Dublin Writers Festival gathers the finest writers in the world to debate, provoke, delight and enthral.”
You’re A Travel-Writer? Get to Lismore.
Lismore in Waterford is the place to be on the 13th June for the Immrama Lismore Festival of Travel Writing.
“Immrama has been dedicated to the art of Travel Writing, Good Music, and Fine Entertainment since its inception in 2003.”
The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writers Festival is happening in mid-July and will feature such luminaries as Lee Child and Ruth Rendell.
“We’ll be covering the glorious gory (and cosy) spectrum of crime fiction, and you’ll take away a list of new novels to keep you awake long into the night. So block out that weekend in your diary, and join us here in Harrogate.”
And What About Us Screenwriters?
The London Screenwriters’ Festival is a must –go for any established or emerging writers for TV or film.
“The LSF now attracts over 100 industry expert speakers while catering for over 500 delegates and offering up over 100 sessions.”
Back To Shore.
Keep an eye on Shore’s Facebook page for details of this year’s festival in Enniscrone.