Milford 2022 by Ramya Jegatheesan

The weeks leading up to the Milford conference did not bode well. A whole bevy of train strikes and rail line cancellations meant some very frantic and desperate emails begging any stranger who would have me for a ride to Trigonos.  The weather looked wet and miserable. And then to top it all off, a very powerful, rich, famous old lady died a few days before the conference began. All in all, an ominous lead-up. 

I’d already been worried about the conference. I had agonised about applying for a bursary place – would I get it? Was my writing speculative enough for Milford? Was my writing good enough for Milford? Was I good enough???

I was momentarily thrilled when I was offered a place – and then I started worrying all over again. Would I fit in? Would the other writers be nice? Was my writing speculative enough?  Was I good enough?!

But my enjoyment of the week was in direct proportion to how much I’d worried. Milford regular and Most Egregious Token Male (official committee title) offered me a ride to the conference. Everyone I met there was wonderfully nice, ridiculously interesting and genuinely a pleasure to drink copious amounts of alcohol and shoot the shit with. The other writers were knowledgeable, their feedback given with much thought and care and there was a sense of egalitarian community and mutual helping out. I think the committee members, especially Liz and Jacey, purposefully and intentionally work towards a welcoming, open atmosphere and it really pays off. By the end of the week, you couldn’t tell who were the regulars and who were Milford first-timers. 

The week was structured, the day broken up by multiple opportunities to eat and lots of free time to do your own thing. Breakfast, elevenses (homemade biscuits and tea/coffee), lunch, then the crit sessions, followed by homemade cake and tea/coffee, and then dinner. We rounded off the evening with drinking and talking in the library. The feedback or ‘crit’ sessions took place after lunch and was usually finished by cake time – and if they weren’t, we’d break for cake time before returning to finish the last piece. I’d got most of the reading done at home (which I would strongly recommend) so most of the day for me was spent walking in the Trigonos grounds, Snowdon in the background, the lake twinkling beatifically or walking down to Dorothea Quarry (also called Mordor by Milford regulars) to explore among decomposing slate houses and rusting quarry machinery.  One memorable night saw me going for a nighttime, moonlit lake dip which was well worth the skinned and bruised knee. 

So, having agonised about this all, what advice do I have for you? Well buckle in, here’s a list: 

1)        Just do it. Stop hemming and hawing, stop chewing your lip/pen/fingers and apply. If you’re Milford qualified (which means you’ve sold at least one speculative short story or novel), then book your place. If you’re Milford qualified and a writer of colour, apply for the bursary. Do it, do it, do it. It’s a fairly easy process and you have no reason not to. It’s so worth it.

2)         Do the reading before you turn up so you can make full use of the lakeside walks, Modor, cake time and chat time.

3)        Bring inside shoes. You’ll appreciate having something comfy and not covered in rabbit poo. 

4)        You don’ttechnically need to bring any extra food. Trigonos feed you four times a day, are very good at accommodating dietary requirements and there are always chocolates during the crit sessions. If you really want to bring something to eat, bring something savoury.

5)        If you don’t drink alcohol, I’d recommend bringing your virgin tipple of choice. There’s no chance of running out of alcohol in the evenings but the delicious Trigonos-made cordials are usually put away by then and you might want something to choke on as the conversations get funnier and more surreal. 

6)        Write down every book every person mentions. They will all sound interesting and you will forget every single one when you get back home.

7) Just do it.

My normal life is a series of to-do lists and post-it notes. I didn’t realise how relaxed and centred I’d felt at Trigonos until I got back home. It’s probably the beautiful scenery, Snowdon winking in the background, and the long countryside walks. Or being really well fed on homegrown, home-cooked food. Or just spending the evenings ‘being’, talking with wonderful people and getting to enjoy life and company. Milford was so good for my mental health and that has only been good for my writing, too.

All in all, it was the week of writerly dreams.  I got back home buoyed and encouraged about my work in progress and disappointed that this couldn’t be my life forever. If only there was a tiny bubble planet where 15 writers could walk in the shadow of mountains, eat tomatoes, drink wine and laugh about Space Jesus forever…

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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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1 Response to Milford 2022 by Ramya Jegatheesan

  1. dergullen says:

    Haha, Space Jesus! So glad you had a good time.

    Like

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