My Fountain Overflows

…with apologies to Rebecca West’s many admirers.

I could précis Ali Sparkes’ talk. I took enough notes, for goodness’ sake, but I’d advise you go listen to her yourself. Nothing beats coming up close and personal with a ‘real author’.

Best Boots in Show – Hay on Wye

But I will pick up on a few points. Her story as a writer included ‘a stack of the loveliest rejections’. What mad profession is it that we value the ‘unfortunately...’ responses?  I hope and trust that it is because our driving force is always to write better stories – and that rejections with a hint of encouragement egg us on to try harder.

Ali was nothing if not realistic. Her recount made us well aware how hard she has worked for her success – brain-frazzlingly hard at times.Yet her liveliness and engagement with her work meant this was not off-putting, more reassuring. The same goes when I see my published colleagues’ amazing spread of work.

There were far more of my friends’ books – but I am a rubbish photographer. This is the only vaguely decent snap.

Not only was she rather purple – she was practical. Here are few of the tips I picked up on:

  • self-edit as you go
  • if you’re lucky, you’ll make a living – just
  • hit deadlines
  • do not throw a hissy fit – ever
  • read your work aloud
  • allow plenty of time for marketing
  • consider a professional editor
  • don’t underestimate the time and effort involved in self-publishing
  • fake it !

Not actually from our event – but you get the idea.

Plenty of food for thought – and plenty of food for the tummy too

Now my main purpose in going to this event was to ‘refill my well’. A couple of disappointments had left me feeling less than passionately motivated about my own work. I try to find something inspiring at least once a month to keep me going. Oh, did I get a bumper topping-up at The Fountain.

Not only did I see my  lovely Scoobie chums – but they waxed lyrical about books they had brought to swap. Few things give me more of a boost than the love of readers for books – and the sheer joyous diversity of literature. It helps me believe there could be a curious little corner for my kind of history-with-magical-realism told in a distinctly Northern voice.

What a fascinating list:

  • Things my mother never told me – Blake Morrison
  • Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo
  • Trash – Andy Mulligan
  • Paranormalcy – Kiersten White
  • Midnight is a Place – Joan Aiken
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  • Double Shadow – Sally Gardner
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness
  • Once – Maurice Gleitzman
  • Room – Emma Donoghue
  • Framed! -Frank Cottrelll Boyce
  • The Animals of Farthing Wood – Colin Dann
  • Sky Hawk – Gill Lewis
  • The Girl who fell Beneath Fairyland and led the Revels there – Catherynne M. Valente

So in short I’m full to the brim – thanks Ali, Kathryn, Mariam,  Zella, Denyse, Julie, Penny, Jill, Jane, Jan, Jeanette, and Colin from Hayling Island Bookshop.

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2 thoughts on “My Fountain Overflows

  1. Thanks for this post – it brought the very enjoyable evening back to me. Ali’s talk was everything you described it as, and more. i think she should give workshops on public speaking! I hope there is another event like this at a later date.

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