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EXPERT FEEDBACK, PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE...
During Autumn 2015 there are three opportunities to submit texts to the NAW Public Edit. Or just come along, and see what makes this event one of the most innovative and informative highlights of the UK Creative Writing calendar.
On 13 October the Public Edit will be at St Hilda's College, Oxford, from 6-8pm. The evening will follow the standard NAW format, where the first hour is the unique NAW Public Edit for which everyone with a ticket can submit a text of up to 2000 words, in any genre of fiction or non-fiction.
Two texts will be chosen at random and distributed to ticket-holders in advance - novelist, non-fiction writer and NAW Director Richard Beard will then publicly edit these texts, working on the principle that writers face similar challenges and an edit for one is an edit for all.
In the second hour at St Hilda's, in the fabulous Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, novelist Mark Watson will talk about his process as a writer, taking the 'pen or word-processor?' question seriously. How as a writer does Mark Watson get the work of writing done? Every life has its distractions, perhaps especially the life of an internationally renowned stand-up comedian, so how does Mark succeed in fixing the words on the page?
The same two-hour format will apply for our regular appearance at Pembroke College Cambridge in November (date and guest author tba) and for the second in a new series hosted by Writers & Artists at the home of Bloomsbury Publishing in London.
The NAW/Writers & Artists event takes place on 26th November (6.30-8.30 p.m). Submissions of 2000 words, as always, are welcome, and the guest author is Benjamin Wood, whose second novel The Ecliptic was published this summer to wide critical acclaim. Benjamin's first novel The Bellwether Revivals was published in 2012 and shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Commonwealth Book Prize, and in France won Le Prix du Roman Fnac.
Pembroke College - National Academy of Writing Summer Programme. This is a residential course that takes place over four weeks in in the beautiful and inspiring setting of one of Cambridge University's oldest Colleges.
The Summer Programme combines the most effective features of National Academy of Writing and Cambridge University teaching. The course will be led by the National Academy of Writing’s Director Richard Beard and by the award-winning novelist Kerry Hudson, and is above all about the practice and techniques of writing.
The intensive combination of lectures, supervisions and seminars emulates a Cambridge term, with the difference that every class is given by a working writer - the programme concentrates on the practical challenges of creating compelling writing, whatever the approach or genre.
This year the invitational lectures will be given by a range of internationally prize-winning novelists and writers, including John Boyne, author of The Boy in The Striped Pajamas, Deborah Moggach, novelist and screenwriter for the Oscar-nominated Pride and Prejudice, A.L.Kennedy, winner of the overall Costa Book of the Year Award and Liz Jensen, nominated three times for the Orange Prize.
Supervisions are at the heart of the Cambridge University teaching and learning experience. Small groups of students meet with an expert in the field – the supervisor – to review and progress their work. Throughout the four-week course students will submit pieces of writing and the supervisor will facilitate a constructive discussion of the work.
The NAW supervisors this year, and their most recent novels, are Francesca Brill (The Harbour, 2013), Jonathan Gibbs (Randall, 2014), Nicholas Hogg (Tokyo, 2015) and Lauren Owen (The Quick, 2014).
Writers and Artists in their Bloomsbury home on 16th June. This is an evening event (6.30-8.30) that will demonstrate the NAW Public Edit followed by a talk from guest author Christie Watson.
As always, everyone attending an NAW Public Edit may submit a text of up to 2000 words. The writing can be any genre of fiction or narrative non-fiction, and two of these submissions will be chosen at random and distributed to ticket-holders in advance.
NAW Director Richard Beard will then publicly edit these texts in front of the audience, working on the principle that all writers face similar challenges and an edit for one is an edit for all. For The National Academy of Writing, it's an article of faith that more can be learned by looking in detail at specific pieces of writing than from any number of Creative Writing generalisations.
In the second hour, Costa First Novel Award Winner Christie Watson will talk about her process as a writer, taking the infamous 'pen or word-processor?' question seriously. How do writers get the work done? What does it take to fix the words on the page? As an expert on herself and her own work, Christie will explain the processes she followed to produce the prize-winning and widely-translated novels Tiny Sunbirds Far Away and Where Women are Kings.
Details about ticketing, along with information about how to submit a text for the NAW Public Edit, are available on the events page at the Writers and Artists website.
a generous appraisal of the experience that reassured the editor and audience alike that NAW was moving in a useful direction. From then on, the many skills that went into making Ion such a success as literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation also benefitted The National Academy of Writing.
Ion Trewin was a perfect fit for the Academy's approach to passing on knowledge about how to write, whatever the genre. As first a literary journalist, then an editor of fiction and non fiction, Ion was steeped in an appreciation of readerly needs. In the tumult and egoism of creation writers can sometimes forget that writing is only one part of the process - despite (or because of) his parallel career as a biographer Ion was an expert at balancing the sometimes conflicting desires of reader and writer.
As a veteran of the literary industry, and someone who chose not to go to University, Ion was in sympathy with NAW's pragmatic approach to getting words on the page: theories and curricula may help justify academic credits but don't always contribute to the writing of interesting books. Knowing how language works, and re-writing sentences and paragraphs as often as necessary, provides a more reliable pathway to compelling literature.
It has been a privilege to know Ion, and in particular to play (and lose) at the annual game of trying to provoke an indiscretion about the Man Booker prize. The only criticism of a Booker contender I can remember was the complaint as much of a keen gardener as a sharp literary critic - Ion was astounded that a shortlisted novelist could feature a garden with plants in flower so obviously out of season.
The National Academy of Writing has been immensely fortunate to have a literary figure of Ion's stature to offer such welcome and good-humoured wisdom. We shall miss him.
‘After my initial shock, I felt pathetically grateful.’ Nigel Farndale, Sunday Telegraph
Over several years NAW has developed a live public edit which is a unique literary and Creative Writing event. Richard Beard, the Director of The National Academy of Writing, edits texts of up to 2000 words submitted in advance by members of the audience.
The NAW Public Edit is modelled on the Conservatoire Masterclass for trainee musicians. In high-level music schools, a trainee violinist or trombonist will be offered a public lesson with a visiting professional. The principle is that all practitioners encounter similar problems – same for writers as musicians - so an edit for one is an edit for all.
The NAW, founded by writers, aims to communicate how writers actually get their books written. Writers look closely at specific pieces of writing, their own, and when it comes to published narrative prose most writing is re-writing. And then re-writing again.
The NAW Edit is usually followed by a talk or interview with a guest writer, who discusses whatever techniques help get the words on the page. This is not a reading. Writers who have appeared alongside the NAW Public Edit include Kazuo Ishiguro, Linda Grant, Kevin Barry, Minette Walters, Sir Michael Holroyd, Alison Moore, Iain Banks, Jojo Moyes, Keith Ridgway, Evie Wyld, Alan Hollinghurst and many others.
The next open NAW Public Edit will be hosted by Writers and Artists on 16th June at Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP. The guest writer will be Christie Watson, whose novels Tiny Sunbirds Far Away and Where Women are Kings have been widely translated. She won the Cost First Novel Award and the Waverton Good Read Award.
Audience reaction to previous NAW Public Edits:‘So useful’, ‘sharp analysis’, ‘excellent’, ‘particularly useful’, ‘invaluable advice’, ‘disciplined/rigorous’. ‘very rewarding’, ‘lots of helpful stuff about language and character etc, with a level of insight and precision that is bloody breathtaking’, ‘great’, ‘excellent feedback and points made’, 'really useful and hugely enjoyable.'