NAWGfest 2018 Review

nawg logoRW recently rejoined the National Association of Writing Groups (NAWG thence), a country-wide organisation of idiots, dreamers, narcissists and delusioneers writerly types. As part of the annual subscription, we’re allowed to enter NAWG’s many competitions with a chance to attend annual conference, the snappily named NAWGFest. Blow us down with a feather if we didn’t hit the jackpot on our first go!

Reporting not very live from Warwick University, Best Poetry finalist Eloise Curtis represents for Reading Writers…


A sNAWGasbord of writing delights awaited at this year’s NAWGfest. 

We: my parents and I, arrived at Warwick University on Setember 2nd to a fanfare and fireworks! That may be a teensy exaggeration. We found a parking space with difficulty due to lack of signage and made our way to reception. Top tip if you’re planning on attending NAWGfest: print off your parking permit before you get there, like it says on the email, and on the website.

Reception kindly gave us our keys early and we lugged our mountains of luggage down to the fanciest student digs you’ve ever seen. On our journey we met a gentleman veteran of NAWGfest. His main piece of advice was where and when to find the ‘secret afterparty.’ The prospect of a party that went on “from midnight till breakfast” sounded a lot like there wouldn’t be any sleeping involved, but I squirreled away this information just in case.

After freshening up we headed to the Humanities building where we were able to read this year’s entries and suss out the competition.

“Your poem is the best I’ve read!”

Thanks Dad, safe to say it’s the only one you’ve read.

By 5.30pm we had made our way back to our rooms to beautify and smarten ourselves up. In some teetering shoes we arrived at the gala dinner. I left my parents at the bar, to attend ‘pre-dinner drinks’ with the other finalists and so began the socialising and networking. After some scintillating conversation and some sweating (due to a very warm day and an under-ventilated room), we adjourned to our tables for the meal. 

On our table: myself and my parents, a couple from Northumberland, and three people from Yorkshire. We immediately began chatting and I got to know the man sat next to me as we tucked into a delicious meal. There were options on the booking form to choose your menu and luckily, our choices were printed on our place cards, for those of us who couldn’t remember what we’d ordered. The Tuscan soup, fillet of cod and apple tatin was a delight as was the conversation, and the wine. Another top tip for attending the festival: take a little money with you to buy wine and soft drinks, the meal does not come with booze!

After the meal came a speech by the guest speaker Millie Johnson. She spoke about her experiences and the highs and lows of being a writer. She encouraged and inspired her captive audience to follow our hearts and forge our own paths. “Don’t give up!” She says.
Then the much-awaited awards ceremony and (drum roll please) … I didn’t win, but I did enjoy myself and managed to collect a certificate without falling off my shoes, *the crowd goes wild!* The whole gala dinner was fantastic.

But of course the evening wasn’t over and I headed to the afterparty on my own to mingle. Possibly the most enjoyable part of the weekend, I spoke to a variety of people about writing and books and drank a little more wine. Come 1am I called it a night and returned to my room for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Sunday morning was a little bit of a rush but we made it to breakfast. A wide spread of breakfast options were available, along with much needed coffee.

The first workshop began at 9.30am. “Editing your fiction: writing techniques” by Morgen Bailey covered everything from how to ‘show and not tell’ to the use of strong and weak adverbs. With interactive writing tasks it was easy to get carried away and submersed in the writer’s world. Morgen also very kindly analysed pieces of our writing submitted prior to the weekend and I received some fantastic useful feedback.

Following the morning workshop came the AGM. Less said about that the better. It was eventful, I would need an entire novel for that one. It did end well with a raffle, from which I won a bundle of books. Yay books!

Lunch was provided, for me this meant mini chocolate eclairs followed by… more mini chocolate eclairs. Other lunch options were available.

Soon came the afternoon workshop, “The pitter patter of comedic wordage” with Marvin Close. We looked at different types of comedic styles and we pittered and pattered with our comedic wordage to come up with a short, witty play – about the AGM.
In all, an awesome weekend, I would highly recommend attending, everyone is super duper friendly and the workshops really get you in the mood for some scribbling.


Many congrats, Eloise! Here’s to an RW takeover of NAWGFest next year, eh?

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