Milford at Fifty by Mike Lewis

I first attended Milford in 1999. I had been to the One Step Beyond Workshop run by Liz Holliday the year before in the same Devon hotel and was excited to attend Milford itself. If a little nervous as I had only sold a couple of very short pieces at that time.

The stories I took that year weren’t great. They needed a lot more work and I simply hadn’t had the time or frame of mind to rewrite them properly.

My father was dying of cancer at the time (he went back in the hospice for the last time while I was at Milford) and I came very close to cancelling the trip all together. But I wanted to get away for a while and do something normal after the previous few months of stress and so I went.

The people were generous with their crits (very generous) and I would like to apologise for making those people who went to Milford 1999 read those two poor half-written stories. The company and the welcome I got meant a lot to me and I was able to forget real life for the week.

Milford 1999, Devon.

I have attended several Milford since (I think 4 in Devon, 1 in York and 4 in Trigonos). Fortunately, my writing has greatly improved, and I have always found the Milford critiques helpful and illuminating. I always come away from Milfords with at least two story ideas as well, usually sparked by the conversation around the dinner table or whilst sitting in the library. I have made firm friends at Milford, who I look forward to seeing again – even if it sometimes only at another Milford.

Due to a variety of reasons, I haven’t been to Milford since 2014 but, having recently almost retired, I decided to attend the May 2022 Writer’s Retreat at Trigonos and attempt to kick start my writing again. I have written on and off over the last ten years, and sold a few short stories, but not with the regularity or volume I used to write at.

The plan was to write every day for two weeks before going but that simply didn’t happen. When I arrived at Trigonos and sat down at my laptop I was slightly worried that I wouldn’t be able to write and would spend the whole week staring at a blank screen.

But I needn’t have worried, with company of other writers and with everyone cheering each other on, we all wrote or edited every day over the week and I ended up having written 57,000 words.

I finished the first draft of a Supernatural Detective novel, added 3 chapters to a children’s book, added 4 chapters to an SF novel and even managed an 8,000 word short story set in a certain Devon Hotel at a writers’ conference.

The week was productive, entertaining and I met some fantastic writers, highly recommended.

Mike Lewis started work in IT but recently (almost) retired after working for 17 years as Toy Soldier Maker  He attended Clarion East in 2002 and has sold short stories to a variety of markets.  His proudest achievement is having one story in a couple of Swedish-English Language text books and thus helping to teach Swedish school children how to swear in English.   He is looking forward to more time to write over the next few years.

About Jacey Bedford

Jacey Bedford maintains this blog. She is a writer of science fiction and fantasy (www.jaceybedford.co.uk), the secretary of Milford SF Writers (www.milfordSF.co.uk), a singer (www.artisan-harmony.com) and a music agent booking UK tours and concerts for folk performers (www.jacey-bedford.com).
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