Or how nice it is to get a pat on the head
Inspiration for all of us unpublisheds is not only finding some little sapling which tempts us to nurture it until it blooms into a story but also being inspired to find the time to write at all. Without publishing deadlines set, book tours scheduled, lunches and meetings with agents and publishers in the diary, it is sometimes easy to wonder why we bother at all. After all we have no idea if we are any good and whether there is a point to all this. So anything that gives me a little boost, inspires me to want to skip back to my laptop and crack out a few hundred words is always welcome.
I had just one of those moments on Friday at the Winchester Writers Festival. I had never been before but it was stuffed full with ‘proper’ authors, agents, publishers all wandering around for us unpublisheds to just talk to. Yes really. And they didn’t seem to mind. I felt like a writer. Just for the day. I am a Festival newbie so for me this was all very exciting. After many months of sending out my manuscript into the dark and wondering if anyone was even clicking ‘open’, here I was chatting to actual agents about my book and hearing that they thought the concept was an interesting one and wanted to find out more. As part of the deal at the Festival, all attendees get to pick two people to have a 15 minute one to one with from a broad list of authors, publishers and agents. Submission packages are sent in beforehand and in your 15 minutes slot you will get some honest feedback about the potential of your project. Both the agents I picked really enjoyed my first three chapters, felt the idea had not been explored before and the writing was not bad at all. Both suggested some improvements but not as many as I had feared and neither suggested I scrap it and find another hobby which was my darkest dread. I was elated. For the first time I felt that there might be a point to all this after all and I wasn’t deluded when I decided to give up my job because I felt I could write and the idea I had was a good one.
Since completing Thicker Than Water I have been working on novel number two. But in the loosest term of the word ‘working’. I know that idea is a good one. I am excited by it and I want to tell the story. But somehow I couldn’t find the energy to bother. A few scribbled notes, a burst of characterisation, some rudimentary research but nothing that was making the thing coalesce into the beginnings of a book. Whilst I was inspired by the story I was not inspired to write it. I was fortunate when I wrote Thicker Than Water that I had given myself the time to devote to writing it. Every day. Like a job. The demands of my mortgage company mean I don’t have that luxury with the new one so I have to make the time, magic it out of somewhere. And it seems to me that this is an extra level of difficulty that us unpublisheds have. To carry on in our writing vacuums without encouragement or acknowledgement. I know that it overwhelms me at times and my writing slowly peters out. How easy it is to be distracted by other things, things that normal people do in the evenings and at the weekends. It is these times that can end with me resolving to give up writing altogether. And it’s never because I don’t have a really compelling idea or don’t feel that I am a good writer, I just run out of inspiration to do anything about it.
The fact that I am writing this blog is evidence that my attempts to give up writing have not been successful. Being around other writers at the weekend, being able to chat about my book amongst people who knew what I was talking about has fired me up again. And for that the Winchester Writers Festival was worth the fee.