Sunday, 12 July 2009

From Chick Lit to Dixie Flicks

A Maelstrom of weather and emotions invoke and evoke the Muse...

This scene of casual creative chaos is a record of a wonderful literary day spent at Upton Country House, invoking the Muse. After a bit of a writing lull, well a drought actually, I decided earlier this year that I would treat myself to a few writing events if they came along.  It is really important to water oneself now and again, as well as watering others in the form of the creative workshops I deliver, the next one I shall be delivering, is 'writing for radio' in August.

On the day that God chose to empty his bathwater, I trundled along to this one, organised by the Poole Arts Development Unit, called 'Lit Up' and drew inspiration and support from published writers, as well as from the literary agent Carole Blake; a formidable woman, a well respected heavyweight from within the publishing world's circle of trust.   There is only one way to describe her and I hope she will take this as a business compliment, she comes across as a 'no shit' kind of person.  Someone who you would definitely want batting on your team rather than the oppositions.  She was obviously seizing the opportunity to re-promote her paperback book 'From Pitch to Publication' and at the discounted price of £12.50 she was happy to sign her name, sadly for those in attendance only between the book's pages and not on a contract.  It got me thinking just how little the publishing world can have changed, her book was published over ten years ago so the same principles, i.e. contracts, approaches to agents/publishers, format, manuscripts submissions et al, remains the same.  

Carole gave a very charismatic speech, endearing in places, I imagine not a description one would automatically associate with her or mix in the same sentence, to arrive at the same old chestnut, which is in spite of all the 'how to' tips, what actually grabs any agent or publisher is a gripping story, well told with an original, preferably unique, voice.  The main learning points I came away with`~? Perseverance, a strong belief in your own work, and the importance of sending it out to the correct publishing house or literary agent, these are the stuff that bringeth the writer in with a chance, basic ideologies we aspiring authors have had recounted to us endless times but for unpublished authors worthy of mentioning again.  

Then of course, there is the timing factor to consider.  As in Life, timing is everything. Carole recounted a manuscript which had 'done the circuit' and been rejected by every major publisher and almost sent to the abattoir, but a steadfast belief in the manuscript by both author and agent meant that after a decent period of mourning it was resubmitted to a publishing house with a new commissioning editor in place, hot to make a name for him/herself ~  identity was hidden to protect the guilty.  

Present it too soon and it is classed as 'Before its time' or 'doesn't fit into any genre or category, too late and it falls into the pile where 'manuscripts go to die', recycled paper waste or contenders for the Turner prize ~ award winning stuff like 'slush pile door stops' a mountain of manuscripts super glued to form the shape of a paper Christmas tree ranging from 4 foot to 100 feet, followed by an epic burning on Hampstead Heath, straight out of a scene from 'Wicker man'.  

Not a lot for Writers' to consider then when nurturing their babies before they send them off to potential slaughter or Resurrection.  Carole was last seen clicking her heels across a very damp walled garden, clutching her raincoat and cash box under her arm whilst dragging her unsold books behind her, leaving chunnels of furrowed earth in her wake. Food for thought... write about what you know?

The hottest author on the block at the moment, Lucy Clarke spoke about her foray into the publishing world with her book called 'Surf Wax and Vodka Jelly'.  Don't you just hate young, hip gorgeous looking women with surf shacks full personality?  I suspect her 27 years of experience living on this planet and the obvious talent she has for re-telling a story, played more than a helping hand contributing towards her success, but nonetheless an author with personality clearly helps when embarking on book signings.  A clear distinct voice, maximised to appeal to a specific type of audience (20 - 40 age group), never have I felt so old as to be not included in this hip age group. Lady in Lavender I am not!!!!!  I have ordered said book online in an act of aging purple rebellion.

I did receive some fabulous constructive feedback in a 1-2-1 discussion about my script and the first three chapters of my novel, so encouraged and renewed, I shall again take up the pen ... that is of course after I have resolved the issue of the Prequel to Cannes/Sequel to Cannes website which urgently demands my attention...

Top tip for unpublished authors, do your research and once you have found your voice, exploit it and shout it from the top of the highest slush pile; just remember to jump clutching the manuscript before flaming match meets tinder dry paper...
Rosie xx

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