20 November, 2012

'My Fed 2012 Experience'

I had a pretty good time at the festival this year! It was nice to see many familiar faces again if a little frustrating that during the day there wasn't much time to just 'sit around and chat' with people. Still, with any one day event this is always going to be difficult.

My group and I arrived late due to roadworks and a seemingly endless diversion so as soon as my bags hit the sofa in the student lounge I was off towards the first morning workshop. I attended John Malcolmson's 'Flash Fiction' workshop and found it very interesting and quite a challenge. The new one and a half hour time slot did not help things much on this occasion however and John did not really get enough time but everyone who attended wrote something and gave feedback at one point or another so the workshop was a success never the less.

After a coffee break I attended the 'Book Stalls' session. Hosted by Andrew from Goodmayes Writers (and Roger) the time was used to allow members of the FED a chance to introduce their latest works and or publications to everyone. Various people read passages from books they had for sale and I got to introduce 3 CD's of my own which would never have come into being without the positive effect previous FEDfests have had upon me.

Lunch was as delicious as ever I had two cups full of Lucia's fantastic soup. Later, the was also a selection of wonderful cakes and sponges that were enjoyed by all as well...

Having had a long journey and a somewhat rushed morning session I chose not to attend the AGM this year. Instead I went to room 303 and prepared for my afternoon Workshop - 'The Soundtrack To Your Life'.

The workshop itself did not go quite as well as I had hoped (I still have a lot to learn about how to put a workshop together) and I was a bit disappointed that only 5 people attended. Everybody wrote plenty though during the workshop and so I'm sure most enjoyed it even if I did end up 'winging it' a little in places!

After more coffee Roger took to the floor in the students lounge and conducted the Plenary session. Its always good to get some feedback from the floor and hear first hand what people have gained from attending the workshops. I do think now (with sadly dwindling numbers attending) that six workshops each slot is too many (four would be better) though. A lot of work goes into preparing a workshop and if on the day workshop leaders only get a few attendees it is likely to put them off running a workshop at future festivals.

Perhaps members could be asked to indicate their preferences in advance of the actual day as in a restaurant menu at a works Christmas do? This way, any proposed workshop that does not attract much interest can be scratched and the final timetable for the day then finalised and sent out to members? I felt really sorry this year for one lady whose workshop failed to attract a single person. Surely things could be done to avoid this situation happening again?

Lastly, I got to compare the 'Celebratory Reading' session this year. This was great fun for me and a hark back to my old DJ'ing days! Everybody who wanted to read got their turn and the session was good natured and light hearted. During the hour and a half we heard a bit of everything really. Interesting, whimsical, 'Naughty' (Bruce and Agnes, really! HA HA), poetic, heart wrenching etc, etc and I got to finish this years festival off by singing a song of mine fittingly entitled 'Genius'.

A big THANK YOU to all who made my day so special and to those who bought copies of my CD's especially Matt from Stevenage Survivors who has been a long-term supporter of me and my work.

I hope we can do it all again next year...

Tony May

G.R.O.W (and Shorelink Community Writers)

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