…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’.
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.
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 !
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.