WRITING FRIENDS took place last night at Cleethorpes Library, with myself and kerrydrewery. It was organised by The Culture House as the final event of the Great Grimsby Literature Festival. It was a chilly dark night and most unlikely that people would be bothered to trek out on such a Tuesday evening, yet so many did, we were delighted. Nearly 40 people came in and found their Visitors bookmarks and Brighter Fear/Dream of Lights cards on the seats. The event was hosted by the writer Jo Gray, who did a super job of introducing each section and fielding questions from the audience and being all round compere without compare.
We began with an account of the writing process, namely the stages a novel goes through from conception to finished draft. I went through my writing year and how a project moves from initial idea, to a nice notebook (usually bought for me by Simon) full of plans, to a box file full of clippings, to a synopsis. From there comes the research in earnest, with piles of texts and a sharp pencil. We discussed how the research can lead you off in all sorts of interesting directions, and yet how some can be false paths and lead you astray. The pressure too of historical, geographical or cultural accuracy, and how this can affect the course of your plot as well.
Next we went through the path to publication, from early stories to getting a publishing deal. We gave examples of the many rejections we had both endured over the last 12 years or so since we started writing seriously. We even left out some examples of rejection letters from agents in our display!
Lastly we talked of how important it is to have a writing friend, who understands that peculiar thing it is to be a writer – and how peculiar writers can be – how the story is always in your head; how personally we need a silent, preferably empty house; how, before publication, we used to say to each other, maybe we’re like those hopeless ones on the X Factor, who are tone deaf yet sing their hearts out fully supported by friends and family whilst all the judges laugh and mock them, and yet they still believe in themselves and say they’ll never give up – our fear that what if we were only mediocre writers or even a bit rubbish, and that it was all a terrible waste of time and effort.
The audience were super and asked some really fascinating questions, such as ‘How do you protect your work from plagiarism when you send it out to agents?’, ‘When you plan your narrative do you have a beginning, middle and end all planned out?’, ‘What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?’, ‘Do your writing processes and your research techniques improve over the years as you work on each project?’ and ‘Is it necessary to do a writing degree or other course in order to become a serious writer?’ Such interesting questions, which we did our best to offer thoughts from our experiences of the writing world so far.
After this, Jo wrapped up the more formal part of the evening, and everyone headed for the cakes and drinks – Kerry brought flapjacks and butterfly cakes and I brought berry muffins and banana muffins. Kerry’s ALL went and I had a about 6 or 7 left, which meant KERRY RULES on that count… Many people stayed to look at our displays and talk with us, which was a pleasure. I was thrilled to see how many people came, asked questions, chatted and generally made the event such a success.
This was my first author event and I have to admit I was rather nervous beforehand. With such a friendly audience as this, I feel I could do many more now, almost nerves-free!
Thanks so much to everyone involved – do see my Facebook page for a full list of everyone who needs thanking for making this evening such a pleasure to take part in:
And thanks to you for reading about it!