My year of writing, set to the popular song, and what I learned from it.
On the first day of writing, my true love gave to me (No he didn’t! I did it all myself. Although he was my first reader and could thus have stamped on the whole darn dream. Instead he said, it’s good, carry on, and went back to playing on his Iphone). That’s what got me started.
12 critique workshops… my first foray into taught creative writing, being one of those saddos who hasn’t got an MA. Learnt it all out of books, me. I found it really expanded my writing world to sit in a room with others and discuss the things I think about all day by myself. Also, I gained some fun drinking buddies for when we need to drown our writing sorrows.
11 books on writing….at least. I’m obsessed with reading about writing and writing about reading and…so on. I learned that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear (on Play.com for £5.99).
10 incidents of stalking…(agents, celebs, publishers….I may be shy and it may have been my first year of writing but I jumped in with both proverbial feet (you can’t very well jump in with one. Would lead to much ligament damage) and no one told me to go away. I learnt it’s not networking when you’re passionate about what you’re doing and love every second).
9 blogs subscribed to….the internet is an amazing place for writing. I’ve already found dozens of invaluable blogs explaining everything from the process and craft to the nitty-gritty of publishing. Like a whole world of friends you haven’t met yet, and maybe never will.
8 Tweets a – trending…..Twitter is a revelation to me. The point, which eluded me before, is of course that you can cosy up to your idols in an illusion of intimacy, and no one gets a restraining order! Your favourite writers may even tweet back, and you can also subtly stalk agents and publishers. Result!
7 MAs offered….God, everywhere does an MA, don’t they? I haven’t got one and I can’t decide if I need it or not. I know it would be lovely to spend all that time studying and learning, but is it worth 7 grand? Still to be decided. However I did learn how much value certain lit establishment figures place on one. Right or wrong? Discuss.
6 competitions entered….I learned there’s a wealth of competitions out there, from short stories to full-length novels (not so many, yes, but they do exist). I can’t stress how much it’s worth keeping an eye out. I nearly missed the one I was shortlisted for, and found out with about 10 minutes to spare before the deadline. I’ve entered a few short story competitions too. It isn’t really my thing but it’s useful practice, discipline – sticking to the word count etc – and feedback. Plus, you might win….
…5 gold rings….Or maybe not, but I did win £500 so far from my writing. Not too shabby! And that teaches me there is a bit of money to be made from the hobby, if you’re lucky. You can also win fun prizes (like an Ereader). In fact it’s just like my childhood quizzing career, which kept me in book tokens and schoolbags for many years.
4 agents calling….You know how getting an agent is the alpha and omega, the moon you reach for when the sun of getting published is so big you can’t look directly at it? And you send out stuff and then…they say no? Well, if you get shortlisted in a big competition, agents may well come and find you. See what I mean about how useful competitions are?
3 Synopses finished….Future books, unwritten, largely unplanned, summarised on one sheet of A4 for what may be very important purposes! It still gives me palpitations to think about it. I haven’t written the books yet, but I have to say what happens. This is more terrifying than The Descent 2.
2 Novels finished…..and onto the third. Number one was sweated and wept out over 18 months and I still feel I don’t quite know how to write something so ambitious , or rather I don’t know how to fix the vague problems I perceive. But number two was really a breeze to write. This fills me full of fear now I’ve started on the next – what if I can’t do it again?
….and a lovely fat publishing deeeeeeal……Could it be? There’s a massive 10 days left of the year still, so watch this space. You never know.