It’s Tuesday, but I’m convinced simultaneously that it should be bother earlier and later this week!
Over the weekend I was lucky enough to attend the Get Writing Conference 2014. It was a very long day, fully of information, discussions and a chance to meet other writers from around the country.
The first workshop I attended was held by Toby Frost, author of four published novels which I had incidentally bought for Mr L for Christmas! The books come highly recommended by Mr L who said they’re a lot of fun. They were a perfect present as he had just requested the Flashman series and we’d just finished watching Firefly. Space Captain Smith and his adventures, I thought, looked like a fab combination of the two. Toby was very lovely, especially after realising who he was a few hours later I very embarrassingly bounded over to pass on Mr L’s compliments for the series.
Second Workshop was on e-publishing and also provided some very useful information and gave me a lot of food for thought! Thirdly was a workshop on Writing for Radio, or ‘Audio Drama.’ This is something I have been considering for a while on and off, I’m just struggling for an idea to get started. However, I will be sending off a short script to a few places after a quick edit. I feel that it needs a better, more resolute ending. But the workshop was really encouraging.
The final discussion was also really fascinating. With writers being paid as little as £35 for a 1000 word piece published in magazine etc, do we undervalue ourselves? When I won a small prize for a flash fiction I was over the moon! £35 for 1000 words? I think I might bite your hand on! I means that someone is willing to pay for my words. OH, MY, GOSH! But…realistically, with the amount of time spent on those words, it works out less than minimum wage. Is this acceptable? Is a ‘writers union’ the way forward to demand set pay? I’m not sure how I feel about this.
I was somewhat ‘accused’ of being a ‘career writer’ during this discussion as I’ve made decisions to be educated and do an MA in writing, all to improve my writing. I don’t feel that this makes me a less talented or more soul-less writer. I do feel that my education has helped me to hone my craft. I can see the improvement through the drafts of the novel and believe that it has come along far more than it would have done, without work shopping and the structure of the course to encourage me to write every week.
I’ve invested a lot of time and money into my education and ‘career’ as a writer, but I feel it’s beginning to pay dividends. Things are hotting up as it were, but more about this all another day…when I have something solid to say. As ever though, I remain VERY EXCITED!
But, a set price for writing? Really? It’s hard enough as a mere mortal to find an agent let along become published. Winning small competitions, being published on websites, giving up my words for free…I feel that they’re small steps to creating a credible ‘writing cv’ for myself. I am able to learn what works, what doesn’t? What are my strongest pieces (they’re usually different to what I expect them to be!) All of these ‘little things’ paid or not all add together and hopefully make me a more attractive employee for a future agent, publisher.
As with any job interview, because essentially they want someone with talent, stories that fly off the page (hopefully off the shelves) but I imagine they really want someone they can trust, like any other employer. Someone dedicated to the ‘brand’ even if it’s their own authorial brand. More and more Authors are taking on more and more marketing and self-promotion with social networking and media. Tweeting, blogging, building up a network of followers. Along with the more traditional book signings and appearances at country fetes… (not sure if this actually happens.) A more attractive author to take on would then be someone who can write, really well, with a good story to tell. With a proven track record of successful pieces (short stories, flash fiction and god forbid – poetry (at least in my case! Sorry poetry lecturers…)) and a proven record of dedication and working to create and maintain a following. With all of this in place, hopefully, said aspirational author might be taken on by an agent?
But without giving up work for free, or very cheaply, it would be very difficult to create that CV and to build on it. Surely, as with publishing contracts, the money big or small would go to established authors, because they have a proven track record with the public?
Besides, it’s not about the money. The final question of the discussion was, ‘if you knew you were never going to be paid for your work, if you were never going to make it big with your writing, would you bother to continue?’
One answer was ‘yes, because there is always hope.’ Touche, touché indeed!
However for me, even in the ridiculous instance where there was no hope (because there is always hope) Yes. Absolutely. I write to share my world and my thoughts and feelings. I’m sure I’ll always have family and friends to inflict my ramblings and fiction on. But then, even if I didn’t. If honestly NO ONE was willing to read my words, at all. They said ‘Fibi, you’re crazy. Please stop sending us this. You call this writing? Have you hit your head???’ I’d still do it. I have to write. I love to write. Even if it will just be me, reading over my work, editing it again and again and moving those darned commas!
That was Saturday.
More to follow for Sunday, Monday…and I have had a wonderful idea today……..