GoSeeShare: Wigtown Book Festival

#goseeshare is a scheme that the HYAH have put in place that supports young people to get out and experience creative arts. To date we have enabled over 120 young people to see a variety of events including performances at the Edinburgh Fringe and workshops at the Glasgow Youth Film Festival. Stuart Coffey enjoyed a trip to the Wigtown Book Festival with Moniack Mhor and here, he reflects on his experience.

Moniack Mhor is a creative writing centre that started in 1993 for aspiring writers and authors alike, located fourteen miles outside the Highland capital of Inverness in Kiltarlity. It boasts some absolutely stunning scenery and steeped in some equally amazing history as well as a pleasantly relaxing air. Moniack Mhor work with aspiring writers no matter what their skill with writing is and whatever age. They also have work with different organisations such as the Highland Youth Arts Hub.

In September I took a trip down to spend a weekend in Wigtown and see their annual book festival which also happened to be my first book festival. While I was there I paid a visit to a lot of the workshops organised by the Wigtown Youth Group. The first one I participated in on Saturday was a book binding workshop with Sarah Stewart in which I learned about printmaking techniques and binding…and then I personalised my own book from scratch. I haven’t done any printmaking before and I found it interesting. I enjoyed it even though I’m not too handy at the threading part but none the less I had fun with it. Afterwards I stopped by the ‘Stand Out, Stand Up’ workshop hosted by Irish comedian Ian MacPherson where I learned the basics of stand-up comedy and got to try my hand at it, despite my initial nervousness, I raised a few laughs and had a good time.

The next workshop I took part in was one I was looking forward to doing all day as it involved art…I am a bit of an artist and enjoy getting a little creative! During ‘Young Stove Hit the Streets’ with Iva we got to try graffiti on a giant wooden board and let our creative juices flow. I really enjoyed it and I wish I could have spent more time spray painting away as I found it quite relaxing.

Then we went on to see ‘Wigtown’s Got Talent’ and sat through a variety of acts, all competing for a giant golden pencil. The judges were entertaining but the best for me personally, was the two magicians that goofed up a bit but were amusing and gave it their best shot – which was what counted in my opinion. On the Sunday, my last day there, I was very excited to go and see the ‘Doctor Who’ events as I am a massive Whovian (a fan of the tv show).

Held in the Wigtown Town House, a panel was hosted by Annette Badland, who played a member of a villainous alien family known as the Slitheen in the Doctor Who TV show. As I was the only Whovian there, I was in my element and took the chance to ask Annette a couple of questions about the show, before she began to ask me questions and put me on the spot, which was a bit embarrassing for me but I was more than happy to answer her questions and I managed to get a picture with her and get her autograph…so safe to say I was beaming!

I loved my trip to Wigtown and the amazing book shops I dropped into. Particularly the biggest book shop in Scotland, ‘The Book Shop’, they had a fantastic variety of used books in store, ranging in age from a couple of years old to hundreds of years old. I’m extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to go on the trip and meet other aspiring writers and learn how to book bind and the basics of stand-up comedy.

I encourage others to go see the festival one day too. It has inspired me to do a bit more writing as well, I wrote a brief in the car on the way to Wigtown’s Book Festival…

Beyond the leafy greens of Dumfries & Galloway lies the deep blue water as far as the eye can see. Passing by the sheep and cows, down south to Wigtown I am bound. Travelling through Scotland’s land, nature’s beauty that does astound. Blessed am I to be from this land, I would trade it for nothing, not even for the Queens Royalty or crown.

It also further kindled my interest in visiting unique book shops and gave me a taste of what a book festival is like, an experience I am eager to repeat one day. Thank you all for reading and never let the passion of doing something you love or enjoy burn out.

You can find out more about Moniack Mhor and the Young Writer’s Forum here: www.moniackmhor.org.uk