Writing is a lonely business, or so the saying goes. But I haven't found that to be true. Writing requires time spent alone, for sure, but there is no requirement for it to be lonely.
And, thankfully, there are many ways to find connections in the world of writing and writers - you just have to look. Not that this fact occurred to me whilst I was writing my first manuscript. No. For many years I worked on that book. And it was terrible - I mean, really terrible. And it didn't particularly improve in that time. It simply changed. Over and over and over again.
|Oh, the endless rewrites! Oh, the endless exhaustion!|
Every now and then during the time I was writing that manuscript, I would google societies for authors, and I'd always come across the Society of Authors, who are fantastic but only accept a writer as a member once they have been offered a publishing contract. And so I would plod on, embracing the Lonely Writer adage, continuing to rewrite, mistaking activity for forward momentum.
In late 2010, I googled once again and spotted something I must have missed on previous attempts: the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). And they accepted membership from absolutely anybody who wanted to write or illustrate (or both for those with enough energy for such things).
And yet, I hesitated. I had a way of doing things. I knew my own writing routine, and had never shown what I had written to anybody beyond family and close friends. Was I risking all that if I joined such a group? You bet I was.
|Daring to peep out... |
(Mostly because it's a racoon. I mean, come on. Cute.)
Within a couple of years, I had attended writing retreats, courses and workshops, pub nights and the annual SCBWI conference in Winchester. And I had met people! Actual real-life people! People who wrote and drew and worked hard and failed and succeeded and - and this is the clincher - did it all together.
Because of the people I met through the SCBWI and my local writing group, my writing evolved enormously. I finally stopped editing and started something new, and that manuscript won an award, and secured me an agent, and I discovered that there is nothing lonely about this business.
The reason I tell you all this is because at my first conference I watched Candy Gourlay accept an award called the Crystal Kite for her debut novel Tall Story. I watched her welcomed to the stage with rapturous applause and saw the audience engrossed by her words of thanks, and I doubt there was a single person in that audience who didn't genuinely celebrate with her in that moment. One of the celebrators was Notes From the Slushpile stalwart Teri Terry.
|Candy accepts her super shiny award|
This November, I will attempt to find a parking space in Winchester, squeeze into a teeny tiny hotel lift with a baby and a pram and then head to that same conference to celebrate all over again, this time with Teri herself, who has just won the Crystal Kite Award for her novel Mind Games. Congratulations from us all, Teri! We can't wait to applaud you onto that stage.
|It's a winner! (And brilliant, naturally.)|