Elaine Bit The Bullet

You know, after interviewing and reading Wendy Clark’s blog post last week, it got me thinking about how my life has changed in the last three years.

report_writingThree years ago I was writing for my own pleasure, with no expectations of really being published. Then my son had a very, very long telephone conversation with Mr Everest, husband of Elaine Everest who is the proprietor of The Write Place. I was duly sent along a couple of weeks later, terrified of mixing with people who had short stories published and were actively working on novels. I was like a fish out of water, they read their work out and they were all so talented. The physical feeling of nausea was real. For all of that, I survived!

With Elaine’s and other class member’s guidance, I have had more experiences than I knew shelf 2existed. I attended the Discovery Day held at Foyles in London, another terrifying experience, pitching my novel to an agent in thirty seconds. I joined the Romantic Novelist Association (RNA) two years ago and have enjoyed everything that goes with that. The New Writer’s Scheme (NWS) and the critique that comes with it is worth its weight in gold. Attending the conference, with the talks, workshops and industry one to ones is a real experience, one I would highly recommend.

While I’m working on my third novel, the first may never see the light of day and my second is out with publishers, I have had many short stories published at home and abroad.

Has my life changed in the last three years? Yes it most definitely has. I haven’t given up my day job, the mortgage won’t allow that, but I eat, sleep and breathe writing. I take it very seriously. My novel writing is no longer just for me, I want to be published and I want to write for a living. To earn a living doing something you enjoy must be wonderful.

My son pushed me, Elaine and her students welcomed and encouraged me and there is no doubt in my mind that I would never have had the achievements, or the experiences that I’ve had, without them. I have a lot to be thankful for. That one phone call changed everything for me.

imagesIf there is something you want to achieve, bite the bullet and put yourself out there. With the Internet these days, you can find anything in minutes, so ask yourself is there anything you’d like to do. Yes it’s terrifying, but mixing with people that want to achieve the same as you is a wonderful feeling. We all need encouragement. Take the first steps and make that phone call, then the rest is up to you.

If at first you don’t succeed…

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Elaine Roberts shares her experience of the publishing world.

I have been submitting short stories for approximately eighteen months. After several rejections, I finally received an e-mail asking to buy one. I was at home on my own, I couldn’t believe a magazine would want to buy something I had written. I danced around my front room, phone in hand, stopping intermittently to re-read the e-mail, I was convinced I had read it wrong, or worse, they had sent it to the wrong person. That was about ten stories ago, but I still get a thrill when I receive an acceptance and I don’t dwell on the rejections.

The success with my short stories has added to my already existing appetite to succeed in my novel writing. It has taught me to write tighter and sharper, because it’s all about the word count.

Since joining the Write Place, I have been lucky to receive guidance and encouragement to attend the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) Conference, where there are opportunities to have one to ones with agents, publishers and editors. The first type of these events was the Curtis Brown Discovery Day, where I had a chance to do a thirty second pitch and hand over the first page of my novel for feedback. I have to say, up to that point, it was probably one of the scariest things I have ever done. It was with shaking hands and a pounding heart that I stepped forward to take my seat opposite the agent, yes, it was very nerve wracking. To say I was stunned when the agent asked me to send in my first three chapters is a massive understatement. However, it did get rejected, but when I read it again I could understand why.

It is important to say, in my limited experience, that everyone I have met or corresponded with, has come across as keen to advise and point me in the right direction. I do believe they want you to succeed and I’ve been fortunate to always receive good feedback about my work.

At my first RNA Conference last year, it soon became clear that the digital age has assisted new authors in becoming published. Yes, authors would like to see their book in a major bookstore, me included, when I get published. However, in the past, most major publishing companies only took on a couple of new traditionally published authors a year, against an average of half a dozen a month now being published digitally. Therefore, while we want to see our names gracing our bookshelves, there is more opportunity for new talent to be discovered. Yes, I’m aware I could digitally publish myself, but personally, going through a respected publishing company is confirming my writing is at an acceptable standard, and that is what I’m striving for. My confidence is rising everyday; it’s just a matter of time before I finally become published. It’s all about perseverance.

The modern world dictates that we use social media to market ourselves and our creations, which is something I fought against for a while, but my fellow blogger, Elaine Everest, kept telling me I had to embrace it and I hate to admit, especially on such a public forum, she was right, but please don’t tell her I said so.