I was hoping I’d have had a Milford report from one of the report volunteers, always one (or several) of the Milford newbies, but they haven’t arrived yet, so here are my impressions of Milford 2018.
Wet, wet, wet! (And that’s got nothing to do with musical bands.) The weather wasn’t particularly kind to us this year. Instead of being able to sit out on the grass to do our crits, we grabbed raincoats and/or brollies to make our merry way between the house (the Plas) and the Main Meeting Room. A short walk, but a potentially wet one. Luckily I’d bought a new raincoat just a few weeks before.
But to be honest, the weather can’t spoil Milford. It can enhance it, of course, but the real fun is in getting fifteen writers of science fiction and fantasy (and some of the genres in between) and kettling us all up together for a whole week in a venue (Trigonos) in Snowdonia, far away from anywhere, with fabulous scenery, its own lake frontage, and perfect for our purpose.
What can I say about the company of writers? We spoke about deeply serious stuff, contemplated the nature of the universe, deep philosophical questions, pictures of cats, chocolate, and also we laughed–a lot. In fact I think this was one of the fun-est funniest Milfords I’ve ever attended. We take our writing seriously, but we don’t take ourselves very seriously at all. Evenings in the library after dinner were a hoot.
I drove to North Wales from West Yorkshire, a journey of about three and a half hours depending on traffic. Since I pass Manchester Airport, I volunteered to pick up our two bursary writers, Nisi Shawl (top left) who flew in from Seattle, and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (bottom left), a Filipina writer now resident in the Netherlands. Our bursary scheme, begun last year, gives two writers of colour places at Milford at no cost other than the cost of their transport.
We read and constructively critiqued twenty pieces of work face-to-face in the Milford style. These we delivered at the rate of four critiques per afternoon session. Each one takes about an hour to do. Everyone gets a turn to speak uninterrupted (timed), then the writer gets uninterrupted right of reply. After that we devolve into a general discussion. I’m pleased to say that no one ran away screaming, ‘But you don’t understand my genius!’
On Wednesday we had our annual AGM and elected a committee for the coming year. Unsurprisingly, since most people are reluctant to come forward, or maybe they’re just happy that someone else is doing it, we re-elected the same committee:
- Chair – Dave Gullen
- Secretary – Jacey Bedford
- Vice Chair – Liz Williams
- Treasurer – Tina Anghelatos
- Token Egregious Male – Jim Anderson
- Gratuitous Woman – Kari Sperring
- USA contact – Karen Brenchley
On Thursday night, after all the crits had been completed, we discussed appropriate markets and Dave Gullen reminded us all that we should be members of ALCS, the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. (Yes, Dave, thanks for the reminder. I’ve done it at last!)
On Friday we planned a day out, firstly to Caernarfon (the town and the castle) and then to Conwy (the town and the castle and a very nice booze shop selling local Welsh whisky and beers).
Sadly on Friday morning, Nisi received news that her mother had been taken seriously ill. Milford kindness immediately kicked in. Liz made phone calls. She couldn’t get a flight on Friday (that we could get Nisi to in time) but did manage a 6.00 a.m. flight on Saturday morning, so Liz and Trevor did an emergency run to Manchester airport so that Nisi could spend the night in an airport hotel and then catch a flight back a day earlier than planned. Rochita went along to hold Nisi’s hand. Thankfully Nisi got back home in time to say goodbye, but her mother passed shortly after. We all felt that we were losing a member of our own family. Milford is like that.