Poster for the 'Writers Gathering D&G online 2021. A yellow typewriter, a white piece of paper with WG 21 written on it. The Wigtown Festival Company logo in the Bottom right hand corner.

Writers’ Gathering D&G, our annual conference for writers, went online this year on 14-16 May with a lively mix of Zoom workshops, a live-streamed panel discussion, a writers' clinic, an open mic night, and more.

View the full programme here

We kicked off on the evening of Friday 14 May with a panel discussion on “Writing in the time of Covid”. Jan Carson, Jarred McGinnis and Saeida Rouass discussed how they've coped as writers during the current pandemic and how lockdown has impacted on their creativity. Watch the event here.

The weekend of 15-16 May included a range of workshops on short fiction, nature writing, crime writing (including how to poison your characters), creating authentic worlds, poetry, memoir and life writing. Our workshop leaders included Jan Carson, Jasmine Cooray, Jarred McGinnisSaeida RouassJessica J. Lee, and E.S. Thomson, and our clinic for writers was run by Karen Campbell.

Our open mic night took place on the evening of Saturday 15 May, intended to provide a safe space for participants to share their work and practise their spoken word skills. We also facilitated networking with some digital lunchtime hangouts and what would normally have been our book stall for participants to share and sell their work was replaced by an online showcase.

Much of the weekend was free, including the Friday evening panel discussion and the open mic night, however the workshops and the writers' clinic sessions were ticketed, providing on-the-day access only. A range of affordable booking options were available, including bursaries.

Our annual Writers’ Gathering was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, so it was great to see it returning for 2021 in a new virtual format, and it was exciting to find out what development opportunities a digital format might offer for our workshops and our participants.

As one former attendee said to us recently, “It’s a place to connect, talk, learn, geek out and write – what more could you want?” We couldn’t agree more!

Information about our next Writers' Gathering will follow early in 2022. In the meantime, you can also follow our Facebook page for regular updates.

2021 facilitators

Karen Campbell stands in Wigtown, Sccotland's National Book Town. Her hands are folded she is smiling. Terraced houses behind her.

Karen Campbell

Galloway-based Karen Campbell is the author of seven novels, and a graduate of Glasgow University’s Creative Writing Masters. She’s the recipient of an SAC New Writers Award and a Creative Scotland Artists Bursary. Her novels range from writing about the police to refugee issues, politics and Italy in World War Two. Until January this year she was writer in residence at Dumfries and Galloway Council, writing a collection of short stories based on Council staff experiences during Covid (as part of the region-wide Atlas Pandemica project). Karen is an experienced creative writing tutor and mentor, working with organisations such as Scottish PEN, Moniack Mhor and Wigtown. Her latest novel, Paper Cup, will be published by Canongate in Spring 2022. Find our more at

Headshot  of Jan Carson smiling standing in front of a tree. The sun is shining on her blonde hair she wears a flowered dress and red necklace.

Jan Carson 

Jan Carson is a writer and community arts facilitator based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is the author of the novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears, a short story collection, Children’s Children (Liberties Press), and two micro-fiction collections, Postcard Stories 1 and 2 (Emma Press). Her second novel, The Fire Starters (Doubleday), won the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland 2019, the Kitschies Prize for Speculative Fiction 2020 and was shortlisted for the Dalkey Book Prize 2020. Jan won the Harper’s Bazaar short story competition in 2016 and has been shortlisted for the BBC National Story Prize and Sean O’Faolain Short Story Prize. Her latest short story collection, The Last Resort, has just been published by Doubleday (April 2021). Find out more about Jan on her website: or follow her on Twitter: @JanCarson7280.

Head shot of Jasmine Cooray in front of a brightly coloured wall.

Jasmine Cooray

Jasmine Cooray is a poet of mixed Sri Lankan and British descent. She writes, facilitates workshops in creative writing, and supports the development of emerging writers. She is also a qualified counsellor. Jasmine weaves principles of self-care and self-exploration into her facilitation design – she runs a private psychotherapy practice and is committed to making the tools of the therapeutic realm accessible to more people. Jasmine has been writing for many years and has performed in arts venues across the UK, including the Tate Modern, and the Royal Festival Hall, and was a 2015 BBC Performing Arts Fellow. She has designed and facilitated creative writing projects in a variety of settings, including schools, colleges, and for organisations such as the Barbican Centre, the Southbank Centre, First Story, CityRead and Mental Fight Club. Follow Jasmine on Twitter: @JasmineCooray.

Jessica J Lee standing in front of a white wall.

Jessica J. Lee

Jessica J. Lee is a British-Canadian-Taiwanese author, environmental historian, and winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature, and the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award. She is the author of two books of nature writing: Turning (2017) and Two Trees Make a Forest (2019), which was shortlisted for Canada Reads 2021. She has a PhD in Environmental History and Aesthetics and was Writer-in-Residence at the Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology in Berlin from 2017–2018. Jessica is the founding editor of The Willowherb Review and a researcher at the University of Cambridge. She lives in London. Find out more about Jessica on her website: or follow her on Twitter: @jessicajlee.

Jared McGinnis stands in front of a blue wall with plants behind him.

Jarred McGinnis

Jarred McGinnis is co-founder of The Special Relationship, which was chosen for the British Council’s International Literature Showcase. He was the creative director for ‘Moby-Dick Unabridged‘, a four-day immersive multimedia reading of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick at the Southbank Centre, involving hundreds of participants. His short fiction has been commissioned for BBC Radio 4 and appeared in respected journals in the UK, Canada, USA and Ireland. He is or has been an Associate Writer for Spread the Word, a mentor for the Word Factory, a fellow of the London Library’s T S Eliot Emerging Writer Programme and a writer-in-residence for First Story. He also has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence. Jarred McGinnis’s debut novel, The Coward, a work of autofiction, is published by Canongate (July 2021). Find out more about Jarred on his website: or follow him on Twitter: @JarredMcGinnis.

Saeida Rouass stands in front of a green bush.

Saeida Rouass

Saeida Rouass is a British-Moroccan author from London. She is the author of Eighteen Days of Spring in Winter set in Cairo during the Arab Spring, and historical crime novel Assembly of the Dead set in Marrakesh in 1906. She has contributed to publications such as The Independent, Media Diversified, Newsweek and Skin Deep. She has also contributed to the anthologies The Ordinary Chaos of Being, Tales from Many Muslim Worlds, Our Morocco, and We Wrote in Symbols: Lust and Erotica by Arab Women (Saqi, April 2021). She was one of the commissioned artists for the Arab British Centre’s Theatre of the East project and is a 2019 Churchill Fellow with her work exploring misogyny and white supremacy in the USA. She is currently working on the sequel to Assembly of the Dead. Find out more about Saeida here: or follow her on Instagram: @saeida.rouass.

E S Thomson sits in front of bookshelves full of old books. She is wearing a bright blue scarf around her neck.

E.S. Thomson

E.S. Thomson has a PhD in the history of medicine and is a university lecturer by day and a writer by night. Elaine's work has been longlisted for the CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger and shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award, the McIlvanney Prize, the Scottish Arts Council First Book Award and the Guildford Literary Festival First Book Award. Her highly successful Jem Flockhart series of gothic crime fiction is now into its fifth book, with Nightshade published in April 2021. Elaine lives in Edinburgh and Gateshead. Find out more about Elaine on her website: or follow her on Twitter: @es_thomson.

For any questions about Writers' Gathering D&G, contact Isla Rosser-Owen
[email protected]