9th - 17th September
L-R standing: John Moran, Dave Gullen, Terry Jackman, David Allan, Guy T Martland, Jim Anderson, Liz Williams, Jacey Bedford, Glen Mehn, Elizabeth Counihan, Lizzy Priest. Seated L-R: Sue Thomason, Amy Tibbetts, Paulina Morgan, Siobhan McVeigh.
Siobhan McVeigh's Milford Report
We begin by admiring the bone structure. We sense the shape of it, strip back the flesh from the bones. Not for nothing do at least three of us have dealings with pathology in one way or another. And we all share a healthy fascination with the remains of the dead. As the crit sessions develop we see which patterns we hunt for deepest in the entrails. Scientists of fiction, we rigorously test, analyse and compare. We focus our attention on each submission in turn, and soon the mechanics of how it works are spilled on the bench, cogs whirring as heads nod and hands scribble.
A gory business. How many times to do you sit in a room with fourteen other people, and listen to them speak one by one without interruption for four whole minutes? How many times do fourteen people listen to you, silent but for their body language? Let’s not be mistaken about this, we concentrate a lot.
But then there’s the camaraderie. The nature of the beast, being up in the mountains for a week with people who have the same passions as you. A passion for word wrangling and world wrestling. For looking into dark corners and turning them inside out for fun. For going beyond the beyond. People who are not content with making up stories, and need to make up the future too. Even if the other necessary passion we share as writers is for being on our own with our imaginary friends and enemies. This is where eating together helps. And chocolate. And chatting. And sitting round a fire staring into the embers over the odd glass of whisky and mugs of fennel tea.
“Would you rather live one hundred years in the past or one hundred years in the future?” John asks. Milford manages to be both. Past UK Milfords haunt us, running back forty-four years. How can we ever measure up? Milford now is so different, disintermediated by digital. We time-shift in a crescendo of emails with introductions and work to review in the lead up to the week itself. We send our stories on ahead, so when we do see each other in the flesh, there’s a moment of recognition, like when you meet your friend’s family and think ‘Ahhh, that’s why they’re like that...’
The critiques flow together in the haven of Trigonos, then a day off to regroup (G&T at the Anglesey Arms, since you ask) before heading home. It’s just the beginning, as the intense learning melts away the fat and exposes the still beating heart of our stories, more visceral than before. In the days after Milford we encourage each other and look forward to finding out what happens next. Milford rules create a kind of utopia in the mind’s eye and we read our work through it, reaching ahead. Milford Eternal, the good/no place, the home of writers through the years, a safe harbour where we share our thoughts.
We blog live from the library of an evening, spilling out our impressions onto the web in a way that was science fictional in 1972. We discuss how to process applications for the two bursaries for self-identifying writers of colour for Milford 2017, spelling new ways forward through who we are now and who we will be. We’re making time away from the every day. Time to respond honestly to the words on the page. And when we’re done, we take the cogs and bones and scatter them in the lake. The ripples run outward over the water’s edge, up the hills to join the misty breath of Brenin Llwyd The Grey King, before rolling down the valley to wrap around us once again.
A selection of this year's sayings taken totally out of context. Just because we can...
"I can smoothly segue into death by biscuit oven." - Dave Gullen
"Revenge is a dish best served reguarly." - John Moran
"I see this as the offspring on the Arabian nights and Edgar Allen Poe." - Sue Thomason
"This isn't clear and that's your fault." - Liz Williams channelling Liz Counihan
"Sex scenes are really hard." - Glen Mehn
"Especially without any bits." - Sue Thomason
"That makes them less hard." - Jacey Bedford
"I've always wondered why there isn't more fashion in science fiction because they're quite close worlds, really." - Siobhan McVeigh
“My memory's going, which is why I can remember Adam West, but not what I had for breakfast." - Jim Anderson
"It's bad when you can't even see the Witch's Tit for clouds." - Jacey Bedford
“I read this as a chocolate-coated Heart of Darkness." - Dave Gullen
"I want less tell and more show, but not the pre-natal mucus kind of show." - Guy T Martland
"Chameleons don't spring. They waddle very fast, but they don't spring."
- Pauline Morgan
"I know the feeling." - Jacey Bedford
"I would like to think I have standards." - Jim Anderson
"I didn't understand this at all, but I really liked it." - Amy Tibbetts
"It might need to be rewritten, but since you’ve sent it in I'm going to carp at it anyway." - Terry Jackman
"I thought: Hey, I'm on opiates, I'm concussed, I'll just stick a few things together and send it." - Siobhan McVeigh
"Pass the brain bleach, please." Liz Williams
"Does Inspector Pellistro always disembark with a hydraulic hiss?” – Dave Gullen
"It's almost a gay cowboy story." Sue Thomason
"Brokeback Moonton." - Glen Mehn
"I didn't think I was confused, but now I'm not so sure." - Liz Williams
"You can't tell somebody to buy the book is you can't pronounce the title." John Moran
“It’s not in the solar system, it’s miles away.” – Guy T Martland.
"We also got a sheep, but didn't make a scene." - Lizzy Priest
“At least I got the pig out, and sometimes the pig gets forgotten.” – John Moran
“I’m going to take my job and treat it with the contempt it deserves.” – Jim Anderson
“Not enough little old ladies as nemesis.” – Dave Gullen
“Maybe she could save the world one ready meal at a time.” – Terry Jackman
“The good news is that I like 50% of this very much.” – Sue Thomason
"Auto-appendectomy is somewhat difficult." - Dave Allen
"You can manage an awful lot with a harpoon and a bungee." - Dave Gullen
“I’m sorry about the frosted nipples.” – Guy T Martland
"So I’m on the demon’s side, that makes me a bad person doesn’t it?" – Sue Thomason
"But then the angel might be pretty smashed on Lone Star by now." – Guy T Martland
" I thought this story was very surreal, then I realised it was a bit like my life." - Liz Williams
"I want to see his little clay heart shattered." – Glen Mehn
"Steve Jobs, praise be unto him." – Guy T Martland
"Wouldn’t he have an army of flesh eating lawyers?" – Jim Anderson
"I never want to see Agnetha’s feet." – Jim Anderson
"This story is about me – and not in a good way." – Lizzy Priest
"As someone who has walked into a tree more than once, I can believe this." – Jim Anderson
"Your demons are much scarier than mine." – Amy Tibbetts
"I recall spending a lot of time in the pub – I enjoyed that." – Guy T Martland
"And how do the journals get back to him, is it addressed: Ben, Crossways, Hidden in Space?" – Guy T Martland
"The road is clear, I wrote, except there isn’t a road." – Siobhan McVeigh
Its very enjoyable, but morally dubious" – Liz Counihan
Committee elected at the AGM, September 2016