Monday, September 10, 2012
four things I've learned
(Apologies for this post being a bit late and possibly slightly out of order...)
I've spent the weekend at the Festival of Writing in York, which is a conference aimed at unpublished and aspiring writers, where they can attend workshops, network with professionals and other writers, and have their manuscript critiqued. I go to give workshops and to be a 'book doctor', giving critiques on manuscripts—that's my official role. My unofficial role is to soak up the atmosphere, to listen to authors and agents, to meet interesting people and to sneak into the backs of workshops to soak up some knowledge. It is hugely inspiring to be with hundreds of other people who love writing as much as you do.
Four bits of knowledge stood out for me this weekend; I heard them repeated over and over by the speakers and the professionals.
No writing is ever wasted. Even if you're writing stuff that'll go straight into the bin, you're still learning, you're still keeping yourself in your story.
It's good to fail. Because failing means you're learning.
All you can control is your own writing. You can't control the industry, you can't control whether agents or publishers like your book, you can't control whether people buy your work, you can't (or, rather, shouldn't) control whether you get good reviews, you can't control the way your genre is going or how people perceive it. All you can do is to write the best book you can. If you are very, very lucky, your very good book can influence all of these things—the industry, publishers, reviews, etc. But even if it doesn't, you've been true to yourself and your work.
Some books just aren't good enough to be published. Several successful, bestselling authors said that they were glad that easy, cheap self-publishing hadn't been available when they'd started out, because they'd have published the first novels they'd written. And if they'd done that, they would not have the career that they do now.
Do you agree?