Thinkings of a NYWF attendee


by - October 4th, 2010


For years, I’ve dreamt of TINA (This Is Not Art).

To be fair, in promo material, they always print it as THISISNOTART, so I mistakenly dreamt of attending the awesomely-named This Is No Tart festival for a short while. TINA is run in Newcastle every year, and encompassing a big part of it is the National Young Writers’ Festival.

I was invited to attend NYWF as a speaker this year, so I thought I’d share my TINA musings, brought to you by boxed wine, lots and lots of boxed wine.

So, as with most of these things, my brief stint in Newcastle began with me making a monumental ass of myself. I arrived at the hostel at midnight. My dorm was separated from the toilet/bathroom by a darkened hall. Turns out, in the light of day, when I stumbled, half-naked toward the bathroom, that that darkened hall was not so much a hall as it was the reception area.

That pretty much set the tone for the proceedings, but luckily, the later times I made an ass of myself, it was partly because of the boxed wine or the ginger beer (both staples of NYWF). The mood relaxed, the curse words flowing, the drinks filled to the brim, we took to the stage, and we talked all things literary.

I was on a panel with new 16-year-old YA author, Steph Bowe – which pitted authenticity against experience: who writes YA better – kids or adults? None of us took a particular stance. Steph said it was all about “respecting” the YA reader, respect the reader, and that’s the key. I reckon bad writers write bad YA, whether they’re adults or kids, and good writers write good YA, whether they’re adults or kids. Being a teen has advantages, it gives them the eye (and the know-how not to call it “The Facebook”), but being an adult has its advantages, the writing’s usually a lot better.

I also took to the stage for ‘Is It Time To Go Home Yet?’, sharing embarassing anecdotes from my career as a writer. None of which I’m prepared to commit to print (just yet…).

There was something absolutely joyous about descending on Newcastle with like-minded young’uns, but there was something for older writers and readers as well. We had a blast, with everything discussed from blogging to column writing, to how to pitch and the art of writing the perfect author bio. So if you’re keen to write, or just like to think ,drink and laugh, TINA’s for you. Check it out next year.

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