WWHQ is in the Blue Fin Building in Southwark, on the tenth floor, which boasts impressive views over south London and conference rooms identified by an alphabet of fonts; we were in Garamond. I rather want to work there. There were around fifteen of us on the course, of a wide age range but all women (and all white), led by Gaynor Davies, who has been Fiction Editor of the WW since I was ten, and womag writer (as we say in the trade) Della Galton.
It's nice to know there are markets so hungry for new writers they lay on courses for them. We learned what Women's Weekly looks for, what it doesn't, and how to up your chances of publication. There was also a useful section on the many reasons for rejection and what to do about them. We did writing exercises, we asked questions, and we laughed a great deal. As I'd hoped, just thinking and talking about women's short fiction gave me lots of new ideas.
Although the course itself was great, I would happily have parted with the fee just to spend my day in a whole room full of people with similar thoughts and ambitions to mine, yet so very different (the first exercise, to write an opening paragraph containing a widow, an earring, a treehouse, and excitement, yielded an amazing variety of interpretations).
We came away laden with freebie Fiction Specials, promising to look out for each other's names in forthcoming issues.