We engage Wales’ writers with opportunities to hone and diversify their skills. This develops the creative and professional potential of early career writers.
Writers are the core to Literature Wales, and we believe in investing in individuals at the right time in order to maximise artistic and professional development, encourage new writers to take risks and develop confidence in their own abilities and skills.
Each opportunity under the Writer Development activity pillar ensures that the writers of Wales can access opportunities to help shape their career and their employability skills. We support writers in producing significant new work which is excellent, innovative, radical and distinctly Welsh, and this includes established writers experimenting with new forms.
Activity Highlight: Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre
Literature Wales runs Tŷ Newydd, the National Writing Centre of Wales. The Centre specialises in residential creative writing courses and welcomes a new group of writers nearly every week of the year. The residential courses offer total immersion in the inspirational setting of Tŷ Newydd, with workshops, readings and one-to-one mentoring sessions in the early morning and continuing into the evenings.
In 2018-19, Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre hosted over 770 attendees and 100 tutors for a total of 58 bespoke creative writing courses. 97% of attendees said they would return to visit Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre again.
Jodie Bond, a speculative fiction writer based in Cardiff that took part in the Emerging Writers Course at Tŷ Newydd gives an insight to her experience:
Tŷ Newydd is located near the idyllic Llŷn Peninsula. The historic house is nestled among trees and backed by a stretch of sea that reaches to the far mountains of Snowdonia. On my first day here I am greeted by the small Literature Wales team who have the fortune to work in this beautiful setting. It’s a delight to be surrounded by lilting Welsh as I’m taken on a tour of the grounds and shown to my room. It’s small, but comfortable, and most pleasingly, has a writing desk with a view out over a side courtyard.
It isn’t long before I meet my fellow “emerging writers” and we get straight to it, with an exercise where we each introduce another participant in a burst of prose. The sun is setting and the midges are biting, but the standard of writing is so wonderfully high that they don’t seem to bother me.
A week at Tŷ Newydd is so much more than promised on booking the course. Each morning we gather for a workshop with one of our tutors where we learn from each other, get feedback on our work and ask questions from those who do it best. Afternoons offer the chance for one-to-one tuition to refine work and talk through challenges we face. Evenings are spent with readings and literary chat.
Tŷ Newydd is a retreat in the real sense. The rural setting at times makes it feel more like therapy than a course. Each day has offered fresh opportunity to explore the area. A trip to the beach, only a fifteen minute walk through fields from the house, felt more like being abroad than in my native Wales as the sun beat down on the waves and made the sand too hot to stand on.
I am lucky to share this week with so many inspiring people. Their writing is transporting. We learn from each other as much as our tutors, and it is a real treat to hear everyone’s varied work. Their company has been enlightening and made for much fun as we bond over a love of language and a passion to write.
“A week at Tŷ Newydd has built my confidence. I now feel ready to send out a novel I have been working on for over a year; a prospect that is as daunting as it is exciting…”
I hope to keep in touch with fellow participants; there is an eagerness to stay in contact, to support each other as writing peers: a long lasting benefit of our stay here.
The week has been magical. I know I will be back.
Click here to discover more about Tŷ Newydd Creative Writing Centre.
Activity Highlight: Literature Wales Writers’ Bursaries and Mentoring Scheme
I was going to be able to spend some time on my creative writing.
The book I’d pitched was set in Victorian Cardiff. A tale of rapscallions and scoundrels, a feisty heroine with a terrible problem and a whole lot of Victorian-style attitude. It was going to be a mystery thriller. It was going to be delicious, dazzling, definitely readable at least. I had no idea if I could pull it off.
My first book Elen’s Island had already been published by the wonderful Firefly Press and Highly Commended in the Welsh Books Council’s Tír na nÓg awards, but I didn’t know whether I was going to have the talent and the tenacity it takes to succeed long term as a writer for young people. Writing one book is easy-ish. Continuing along that precarious path could be considered foolhardy, daring, reckless, seriously hard work.
It’s a ridiculously competitive market with the ups and downs of the most nightmarish of rollercoasters. The time this bursary gave me, and also the faith Literature Wales placed in my work, made my career decision for me. I was going to be an author properly and committedly, however hard the terrain. I’d begun my journey in flip-flops, I was continuing it in purposeful hiking boots.
I battled with the first draft of Gaslight and got most of it wrong. I battled with the second draft and got some of it right. I battled over other drafts. So many it became something of a blur but with the time pressure off I could play with words, really try to make them evocative and challenging, get them mixed-up, higgledy-piggledy, singing, still. If I hadn’t had the firm and watchful eye of my trusty editor Janet Thomas, I would still be twiddling with them.
“I used the bursary to buy time. Time to think, dream, write, research, doodle, walk the beaches and the woods, imagine, imagine, imagine. Battle. It made space in my head for ideas. It allowed me to immerse myself in the story and the creation process. It gave me a chance to make mistakes and to write a world I could really believe in. It gave me the opportunity to fight my story’s corner, so it had the best possible chance of being told in the best way.”
Eventually Gaslight was born to a sell-out event at Cardiff Children’s Literature Festival and as I read aloud some of the words for the first time, I knew that I had been right to follow my (at that time hammering) heart.
Gaslight also won Wales Arts Review Young People’s Book of the Year 2017.
To discover more about the Writers’ Bursaries Scheme, click here.