Vanessa: Arvon Foundation courses are just the best... for someone who has never heard of Arvon - what is it?
Sarah: The perfect week really! You get to spend time in a beautiful setting with other writers, at every level, deepening your craft and skills, and expanding your knowledge and imagination. There are two tutors and one guest reader for the week, and mornings are normally spent doing workshops, afternoons writing or having one-to-one tutorials with the tutors, and evenings are spent sharing what you've written or hearing other people read to you. Also there are trips out to the pub!
V: Of course (no pun intended) you get what you pay for, but it is quite expensive - however, I believe Arvon give financial help where applicable ? How does someone find out about that?
S: If you look at the Arvon Foundation website - there are details on how to apply for financial aid for courses. I haven't done it myself, but everybody I've met at Arvon is very approachable, so I hope that nobody would be put off applying.
V: Online Writing course - that sounds interesting - but what exactly does it mean? What will you be doing?
S: Between us, we have designed a course we'd love to go on ourselves! While on the one hand it's supremely practical - both Jon and Danuta are industry experts - so it's looking at what is happening for writers on the internet now. On the other, like all Arvon courses, it is all about the writing. Hopefully, writers will leave with a deeper understanding of how to write for different readerships and in different styles, which has to make all aspects of their writing more powerful. It's also personal - we will be looking at the best way to promote your work, your ideas and indeed yourself to who matters to YOU! I know from my own experience that writing for blogs, even in short bursts on twitter, has improved my creative writing and opened up new possibilities for me. We will be looking at communicating our messages - from photographs, to opinion pieces, to different ways to share creative writing, and also guest posts.
V: Why is there a need for this course?
S: It's clear - and Danuta is one of the best placed people to talk about this - that to be published nowadays (at whatever level) some kind of web presence is helpful. I must admit I embraced blogs etc very early on - starting my own in 2003, but I keep meeting writers who hate the very idea. It feels to them a distraction, or even a personal intrusion. I think the course will be good in exploring how you can talk personally but not about yourself (if that makes sense). But also many people don't know where to begin, or have been writing blogs etc for some time and aren't getting the audience they want. There's no magic wand, but we will be looking at really good ways to target your energies.
V: Who are your co-tutors?
S: Jon Reed is an author and social media expert, who runs Publishing Talk . He is in very wide demand for coaching, presentations etc, so all the writers having a one-to-one tutorial with him will be lucky. I'm planning on asking for one myself! Danuta Kean is one of our top publishing commentators and she's going to give an oversight into what is happening in publishing now, and how each one of us can improve our chances of getting noticed. Most importantly though, both are lovely - it's going to be a fun course!
V: What experience does a would-be participant need to have?
S: There will be help in setting up a blog, so really someone could come along with no experience at all. Equally, we know that there are people interested who have been running a website for some time but want to add some more sparks to it. The whole idea - as with all Arvon courses - is that while you look at your own process and what works for you, everybody will learn from everybody else. Even people who hate the very idea of the internet will find something to take away with them!
V: It's at Lumb Bank - I've never been there - tell me what it's like?
|Lumb Bank, by Abi Morley|
S: I haven't been there either, so I'm really excited. But just look at this photograph....beautiful, eh? (V, attached. It's taken by Abi Morley and I'll get her permission!)
V: The Arvon courses I've been on have been hugely life-affirming, and life changing too. What three things do you most hope this course will give to the participants?
S: Oooh good question...
1. The feeling not only that they CAN do it, but that they are excited about writing online and feel confident that they know what they want to say, and to who.
2. A notebook bulging with creative ideas they might not have thought of before. And a desire to keep exploring after the week is over too.
3. New friends.
I'm hoping for all of these three things myself!
What I would say is that if anyone is interested and wants to know more, they can email me direct - firstname.lastname@example.org - and I'll do my best to answer any personal questions.
Brilliant... thank you Sarah - so there you go - a wealth of info on what sounds like a rather interesting course. Speaking as someone with a moribumd website - I wish I could go myself!