White Badger? Yes, that’s me! For six glorious days this month I was a White Badger at the Swanwick Writers Summer School in Derbyshire. I even had a badge to confirm this.
So what is a White Badger? A White Badger is a delegate at the Swanwick Writers Summer School who is attending for the first time. To help them settle in quickly and for them to be instantly recognisable to the more experienced delegates, the newbies are given a white badge.
I loved this concept as I found myself surrounded by genuine offers of help when I looked lost or bewildered. What a fabulous way to reassure someone who may be feeling nervous attending such an event, especially when the Summer School attracts 300 delegates!
On arrival, I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the complex and the numbers of people attending the event. I was a solo delegate but quickly found others in a similar position. Coupled with the genuine friendliness of the more experienced delegates, I soon found my nervousness dissipating within a few hours.
By day two I was so settled in my surroundings that Swanwick started to feel like home. It was surprising how quickly this familiarity happened. I had never really ventured far from home without my husband before. I can honestly say this feeling of homeliness was down to the support and friendliness of my fellow delegates. Experiencing such a bond between such a large group of people was a new feeling for me. There is something quite magical about like minded people coming together for one common purpose.
I quickly settled into the routine of workshops, writing and socialising. I can liken the experience to my childhood reading books of Malory Towers. How I longed to attend a boarding school where learning and friendships developed within the four walls of a rambling, old building. And here I was at the age of 56 enjoying a similar experience with people I felt I had known all my life.
The highlight of my week was having the wonderful opportunity of seeing one of my stage plays performed on stage in front of an audience. I was extremely honoured to have been selected for this and I consider it one of the greatest moments of my life.
To see my words come alive through an actor on stage is something I never dared dream would ever happen. But last week it did. When you have dreamed something for so long and it suddenly happens, it is one of the emotional moments you ever experience. And yes, I cried as I watched the performance. I will be forever grateful to the wonderful actors and director that brought my play to life.
The week at Swanwick passed by in a blur of adrenalin rushes and too many happy memories to count. My fellow Swanwickers listened to my thoughts about my writing. They offered welcome encouragement for my projects. I learnt so much from the experienced tutors and delegates alike. I will feel eternally grateful for this opportunity to further my writing skills.
My thoughts were of sadness as I left this wonderful place, but also gratitude that I had experienced the magic that is Swanwick. My life has now taken on new meaning following my week’s stay. I have defined writing plans with a new focus and I have made friends for life. I am now counting down the days till I return next year. Sometimes in life, something takes our breath away and for me, that something is Swanwick.
Until next time dear friends