What do you do when you’ve written for years, through said blood, sweat and tears, taken on board every criticism, every piece of well-meant advice, hired professional editors (at NO small cost), gone along with ideas offered by agents and written whole books—WHOLE BOOKS—just they way they wanted them written—and they don’t sell, again? You blink is what you do, like a rabbit in the headlights, stunned, shocked, exhausted, heartbroken. You can’t quite believe the door to publication that miraculously swung open, offering sad little you access, has slammed hard-shut in your face, not again.
You pick yourself up though. That’s what writers do. You’ve given too much of yourself, juggled home, job and family, worked too hard through life’s tragedies, to just…give up. It is not an option. Not when you’ve come so close.
It’s hard out there. This we know. Writers read the Bookseller, too. It’s hard for agents, bombarded with unsolicited manuscripts, wading through slush-piles, trying to find that all-elusive usp (unique selling point—or expletive, depending on viewpoint). It’s no picnic for publishers in the current climate. But it is hardest of all on writers. Simply because to justify the blood (rep), sweat and tears, the many, many wasted years, the almost vicious determination with which we try to guard our precious writing space (read time. Actual writing space we also cannot justify), we need to earn money. Without it, writing is not justifiable. It remains a hobby. How does one justify a hobby that necessarily takes over one’s life? A hobby that becomes a burning desire to succeed, because you have been told by “those in the know” that you are good enough. And you have to believe it, because how could you write if you didn’t?
I don’t feel the reputable agents I’ve had represent me—three in all—did anything deliberately against my interests. I believe one…or two…made mistakes, but I also believe that, in the interest of all parties, they did their best for me.
It didn’t work. I was left floundering…each time sinking a little lower…back at square one.
As stated, however, I wasn’t about to give up. My eyes and ears open, I looked for other chances. Perhaps other approaches to the one dictated by protocol: slush-pile, query letter, cv, synopsis, first three chapters, then pray, followed the rejection letter. The wasted trips to
, along with days and then another year or two of my life, I could do without, too. London
Then came the invitation to join the Brit Writers' Awards Publishing Programme. I went for it, not out of desperation—although reading the above you would be forgiven for thinking so, but because I believe I am good enough. Because I believe that the ethos of the Brit Writers’ Awards, whose ambition is for “this British-born initiative to champion writing around the world and create an important shift in the way people of all ages and backgrounds view creative writing”, to be not only a good, but necessary, one.
And so, after a long and painful journey, I am now firmly on board with the Brit Writers’ Awards and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
For information, the first group meeting, at the Park Lane Hilton in
, was extremely well organised and truly inspirational. Imran Akram is a powerhouse of ideas. He clearly knows his subject well and is determined to help each person identify their market, tailor their work accordingly, if necessary, and move them forward to publication. London
I came away from my first follow-up meeting quite literally buzzing. The aim of the Brit Writers’ Awards seems clear to me: to make writers as good as they can be and to give writers from all backgrounds a voice.
After a further intensive one-to-one meeting, along with available access by text, telephone or email, should I need it, I have now completed simple revisions based on what I can only call the vision of Imran Akram and I am very excited by the result.
In my humble opinion, the Brit Writers’ Awards Unpublished should be applauded for encouraging and offering expert help to writers—from all areas—achieve their goal. Never, ever, has my writing time been better spent.
Please do check back for a rundown of tasks undertaken—and achieved—in readiness for our next BWA meeting.