Years ago, I remember thinking that if only a story of mine could be listed in a competition, either short or long listed, then I would be happy. What a paucity of ambition I had!
Luckily, my friends and teachers saw something in my writing that excited them and they encouraged me. My first writing teacher was novelist, Elizabeth North, sadly no longer with us, but back in 2004, she tutored with the Open College of Arts. She was very good on detail and the first person to point out the perils too many adjectives. A useful tip.
As for the encouragement, I will never forget one remark she made on an assignment - 'I don't have a single picky carp'. It made me laugh then, and it does now. Isn't the picky carp one of the fish in Finding Nemo?
She was the perfect tutor for that stage on my journey. I learned a lot, wrote like mad thing every single day and Hey Presto! I did get a story listed in a competition. Then a few more. Maybe I could write a novel? Or two. Or three.
What I needed then, was to meet other writers further along the writing road. What do I do with all these words?Cue my application to Exeter Writers, whose website made it clear that only writing of a publishable standard was acceptable. The previous year, I hadn't got the confidence to apply, but being shortlisted gave me a boost. N.B. You won't win if you don't enter. Send your stories out.
At Exeter Writers I met my champion, my mentor, my co-author of The Creative Writing Student's Handbook, and now dear friend, Margaret James, who helped me shape my latest novel, Secret of the Song. She would ask me apparently simple questions like what's that scene for? How does that move the plot forward? What's that character's role? Now I often hear her voice in my ear, and I can safely say she has saved me from writing my way down dead end streets.
Most writers have writing friends who encourage but can also warn when things aren't going in a good direction. I have a precious relationship with someone I trust. In fact, I have several close friends who are writers and I value them enormously.
Lucky me! Oh, and that's the other really important factor. Luck. I have no idea how you get that, but don't give up on it. Luck comes in a whole raft of disguises. Luck can be being born with a talent, luck can be being able to work hard enough to write 100k words, luck can be being able to learn from others, luck can be in finding the right cover designer, luck is nestling in the palm of Amazon's mighty hands.
Why Amazon promotes one book and not another, I have no idea. All I can say is, thank you!
Secret of the Song is a Kindle Daily Deal on Thursday 30th June. Click HERE!
Read Margaret's Blog