Archive for the ‘getting published’ Category

Writerly Luck

Referring back to my post about luck taking a role in becoming a writer, I found this lovely section of Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man the other day:

“George is like a man trying to sell a real diamond for a nickel, on the street. The diamond is protected from all but the tiniest few, because the great hurrying majority can never stop to dare to believe that it could conceivably be real.”

A Single Man, Isherwood, C., (1964), p33

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Plan A

In the pub last night, we were talking about what our “Plan A” career was. Or, what we had wanted to be when we grew up.

“I’m probably on Plan H, or something,” said Nick. He counted them off on his fingers. “Yep, just about.”

“What was your Plan A?” someone asked.

“I can’t even remember now.” And not many other people could, either. We all laughed.

For most of us in that group, Plan A was a pipe dream: astronaut, actress, footballer… And for most of us in that group, there is a still a Plan A(ii): writer, author, novelist… We all write in our spare time, and everyone would love to give up their jobs and earn enough money to live off their writing. Oh, how we want it. But no one said it.

I thought to myself about how my Plan A is beginning: with the Masters I am taking the first step to that goal. When the course finishes, I will step back into real life again, get a slightly boring job again, and continue writing in my spare time. Unless I’m very, very lucky.

I think we need to be lucky. That’s why no one said it.

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What was three months away is suddenly nearly two months away, and with it comes the phrase ‘only’. I’m moving to Edinburgh, I’ve handed in my resignation at work… it’s all coming closer, and yet it doesn’t feel real yet.

I’m so excited: I know this is an amazing opportunity and I’m already disappointed that it’s only one year long! And yet… I can’t quite imagine myself there – in Edinburgh, studying –  yet. And that makes it feel quite unreal, as if something might happen between now and then to stop me going. Perhaps that feeling always lurks when it’s a life change you really, really want: you can’t let yourself accept it until it’s actually happening.

Now A215 is finished, I find myself with more free time: time to read, time to think about writing, time to submit stories to competitions and other exciting locations. But I still can’t help but wonder how I could be using this time more effectively.

How can I prepare for this Masters course? What should I read? I have two months left before it starts, and when it does I want to be prepared to make the most of it… any advice?

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My plan for June, July and August, aside from reading as many books as I can cram into my free time and writing lots, is to send some stories out into the world for the first time.

Stemming from A215, I will have three stories which are almost submittable, in my opinion, and this is reflected in the marks given to me by my tutor. So I plan to submit them to one place at a time, and keep a record of where I’ve submitted and when I expect to get a response.

Thinking out loud (as I haven’t researched this with specific stories in mind yet, aside from my TMA05 story), I would prefer to send off to print publications, as seeing my writing in physical print strikes me as more satisfying and exciting than online.

Similarly, I might look at some competitions, but I’d probably prefer conventional publication if it’s achievable. I might like to aim some new stories at specific competitions in the meantime, writing specially for them.

As well as this, I will be reading a book about writing film scripts, not because I want to write them, but because I suspect the advice is applicable to novel structure, and I would like to finish my chapter plan for a novel idea I had a few weeks ago. At the time, I felt that I didn’t have enough knowledge of novel structural conventions to complete the plan and begin writing, as the second draft would need significant structural reworking if I started too early.

I’m looking forward to my three months of commitment-less (except job-work, of course) writing before the MA starts, and I intend to take advantage of it as much as possible.

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