Now that a week or so has passed since that extraordinary five day event that was the Edinburgh International Writers Conference 2012 I am starting to understand the real benefits and stimulus that come from bringing a group of disparate writers together and waiting to see what will happen.
During the event itself, the experience was often confusing, this is true enough - giving rise to a serious of half risen debates that lacked clear definition in order to fully take off. But it was often inspiring too - when individual writers captured in a sentence or two (often quoting another writer, or other writing practices) an entire folio of ideas.
Now that we have all gone our separate ways, I am both further from and yet closer to the idea of a body of us, many headed, multi voiced… Monstrous, actually, but also rather beautiful. I learned a lot, I think. China Miéville’s address on the last day, in particular, turned on lights in rooms in my brain I didn’t even know existed. That exhilarating anarchic spirit of true creativity electrified his address and reminded me fully of the life affirming wonder of making something that wasn’t there before, that is formed in such a way as to take us somewhere different – intellectually, aesthetically, culturally…What could be more exciting than to think about that?
Because we’re all doing this thing – putting words on the page. One word after another word. It’s what we do – for whatever reason, outcome, gratification or reward… And the white space in front of us is another country. The one we can keep visiting, over and over – no matter where we’re coming from.
Being together in the way we were in Edinburgh this year made me fully aware of that – how different we all were, and yet carrying this same passport that has stamped on the front of it the same thing: ”writer”. An international conference indeed.
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