…so smoothly, it leaves me doubly in awe of the Brit Writers’ Awards organisation. Thanks due to Zareen and Joanna (and all the other conscientious workers behind the scenes) and Imran, of course.
We are now at the cluster meeting stage. I keep wanting to call them culture meetings :), which might go some way to describing how I (and I think I can speak for all the participants of the BWA Publishing Programme here) feel coming away from the various group and one-to-one meetings we’ve already attended. These smaller group meetings should be interesting, and a little bit nail-bitingly nerve-wracking, as our sweated over, re-worked, re-written and finely honed mss are now at that all-important editing stage. I know most people on the group are used to edits, so that in itself is not a problem. Our concern is in ensuring our writing is “good enough”. Dare I say, better than good enough?
We are all looking forward to our next group meeting in
. There are some excellent writing relationships and good friendships already being formed, which is fantastic, particularly as we are all aware of the demands writing and juggling life, work and family makes on our time (and the sometimes frayed tempers and necessary self-isolation that goes with the territory). London
Progress reports will follow but, for now, I am afraid I cannot reveal more, confidentiality being something both the BWA and each participant is prepared to respect. On the subject of confidentiality, I offered my really riveting (not) story so far on the rocky road to publication to a blog, mainly because I think shared information might lead to a more balanced view on anything “new”. Mentioning I had had various agents along the way, I was met with, what agents(!?) along with an invitation(?) demand(?) to name them, presumably to validate my story.
I don’t think so.
Personally, having followed protocol for years, sometimes not even daring to submit simultaneously, as required by some agents, and then waiting patiently to die of old age, I am rejoicing in this refreshing approach by the BWA and will continue to share. However, naming agents ain’t on the agenda, sorry. Why on earth would I want to seem to be denigrating people who I genuinely believe did their best for me? More importantly, believed in me enough to do so?
The fact is, not everyone taken on by an agent is going to get published in a struggling industry where, even coming out of recession, it can only ever offer publication to a limited number of people. It doesn’t mean that every other writer isn’t “good enough”. There is some real talent being passed over, because there are simply not enough slots to fill, or eyes out there to read and spot that talent. I, along with other participants, have said we will say if we feel we have been duped/scammed/taken for a ride/treated unfairly by the BWA. We don’t, for information. I would also speak out if I thought I had been treated so badly by an agent, because—and I reiterate—I think it’s important to share information to attain a balanced view.
Unfortunately, the aggressive response by some of the people on these various forums, has led to others withdrawing from them. No one wants to feel put down or bullied, after all, do they? OK, I’ve said my bit.
For now, moving forward, I’m off to isolate myself!
I would just like to end by wishing Claire Kinton, author of the excellent book DEAD GAME—an extraordinary story of triumph over adversity—huge GOOD LUCK on Thursday (World Book Day) when she goes to her local secondary school to talk to two-hundred students about her book and her publishing journey. Don’t be nervous, Claire. Stand tall. You talk beautifully and I just know those children will relate totally DEAD GAME and to you. Here’s to sharing and inspiring.
Last but not least—and also in the spirit of sharing, below is a link to Spencer Ratcliff’s latest radio interview with Ian Wyatt of BBC Radio Essex. Spencer (also a BWA Publishing Programme participant) divides his time between
Australia and the and has spent most of his life working as a journalist. His novel THE VOICES OF CRABTREE LANE is set in an UK Essex country village in 1958, still reeling from the aftermath of war. The action hinges around the moment when the community's halcyon days of innocence come to a tragic end when popular boy, little Johnny Button, disappears while walking his dog.
Spencer’s broadcast is 1:54 along. Please do have a listen. It warm, witty and extremely interesting.
Write on, guys!