Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Moving Forward...

…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 London.  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). 

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 UK and has spent most of his life working as a journalist. His novel THE VOICES OF CRABTREE LANE is set in an 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!


  1. Hello Leanne,

    I'm really enjoying reading your blog - it always makes me feel so inspired to get on with what I'm doing!

    I enjoyed the radio clip, thanks for posting. It said this wasn't the first clip from this author, don't suppose you have links to the others, do you?

    Also wishing your friend Claire good luck - us students aren't as bad as we look!

    Lilly x

  2. Indeed Leanne, there are many roads to Rome, as they say! How many twists and turns that road has, who knows - I don't think anyone’s journey to publication, no matter how successful/famous, has been a simple motorway ride. We all have a different story to tell.
    I went into school yesterday to talk to the Head of English and did some last min prep work. I'm now taking a creative writing class with Year Nine, as well as doing my mass presentation! At the moment I'm really looking forward to it, especially now I’ve been and seen how the land lies! That may all change come Thursday morning though. Definitely – here’s to sharing and inspiring.

  3. I'm proud of you, m'dear! My brother was Head of English. I know he would have welcomed someone to help inspire the kids he was teaching with open arms. You'll love it. Children react so well to someone who is prepared to show an interest. I bet you they'll be writing their own stories in a flash. Furthermore (:)), you do realise you will have to assess them? I have someone who has asked me to do that (just for two children). It's a fantastic worthwhile thing to devote some time to. WELL DONE YOU!

  4. Lilly, I posted you Spencer's address via email re the links. I know he'll be thrilled to hear from you. As for the inspiration, that comes from the BWA via me. Their fundamental ethos is to inspire people to write. All people. What better way to express yourself?

  5. Thank you, Leanne for your clarity of position. I was quite down-heartened by the catty tones of some recent blogs I'd read. I end up torn between wanting to say my piece and offer some balance, and wanting to walk away from such negativity. As Lily says, inspiration and motivation is what we should really be sharing.There are some blogs I certainly won't be visiting again. I prefer to write my own and express myself there, as you do, Leanne.Claire, Have a great day in school! Taught for many years ans the kids love a good story!

  6. And thank you, Sinead. I have to agree. I'm all for healthy debate and getting necessary info out there, but I don't see the need to upset people. After all, you never do know what problems, crises or upset that person might already have in their lives.

    I think they'll be enthralled by Claire's story, personal and fictional.

  7. Hey Leanne, I know we've talked about not wanting to get involved on those blogs - there's so much aggression out there on the internet - who has the time or energy to fight over nothing? We're the ones on the course, not them, let *us* say if it's any good, if we're learning and growing.

    Anyway - thanks for writing such an insightful blog and staying so positive xx

  8. A big thank you from me too, Leanne. I won't repeat my experience lest I really do come across as desperate. That's the adjective that sticks in my craw.
    Enjoy the school work Claire. It's been the most enjoyable experience for me, thanks to the direction of the BWA Publishing Programme. Tell us all about it when you can.

  9. Thank you, George and Eiry. An excellent point, why waste all that time and energy reiterating what has already been clearly stated by all of the participants, that we are not only enjoying the experience, but are, so far, extremely impressed with the guidance and professionalism offered by the BWA? Personally, I don’t feel the need to prove anything. :)

  10. I have a 1:1 plus a cluster group meeting tomorrow, Leanne. Beryl will keep me laughing. When's yours?

  11. Looks like next week, Eiry. Was scheduled for Thurs, but looks like three of the five can't make it. GOOD LUCK with yours. Every day in every way, we grow a little stronger! :)

  12. Looks like you're going to be even busier!

    Great blog you have here.

  13. OMGosh! I'm too humbled to speak!

  14. I'm fired up after the cluster group meeting today. Should have retired for the night already, but I have so many facts whizzing round my supposed/ assumed remnants of a brain that I need to unwind. Thanks to everyone present at the meeting for such an inspirational session. We're truly a team and I'm having a whale of a time. Happy clustering(?)everyone.
    Iechyd da!

  15. Here’s a link to Spencer’s fourth interview on Radio Essex, aired today. It’s 2:59 into the programme: http://tinyurl.com/5wlbb9r

  16. ***Correction: Spencer airs at 1:51, not at 2:59. Happy listening!