Do I Really Need A “Creative Writing” Qualification?


Prompted by a conversation with my writing friends last night, this morning, i spent some time Googling Creative Writing Degree & MA courses here in the UK.

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Back in 2012 i started the BA course with The Open College and although i enjoyed my first year, i didn’t continue onto the 2nd year, for 2 reasons:

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My Faber Reading


A HUGE thank you to everyone who commented on my IWSG post a couple of days ago. I will continue to write, but I’m not going to make it the entire focus of my life anymore. I need to step back, chill about it, and if I don’t write for a week not stress about it.

Ok, I’m gunna share with you the piece I read out at the Faber event. Be gentle with me, I know it’s not brilliant lol. In the anthology there is a synopsis and a 1500 extract from Laura’s journal, the one that arrives in this scene…

Ruby knew the handwriting, but didn’t recognise the post mark. As she tore open the large manilla envelope her hands shook. Inside were a black Moleskin notebook and a folded piece of pink paper, a similar shade to the fluffy slippers she was wearing. Her chest tightened as she unfolded the letter.

Dear Ruby,

I know this has probably come as a huge shock, did you secretly hope that you’d never hear from me again? I pray that’s not the case. We are so alike, you and I, stubborn to the bone and we have wasted so much time. Regardless of what you think of me, I love you, and not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about you, worried where you were.

You’ll be pleased to know I finally summoned the courage to do what you’d been telling me to do for years. I’ve left Daniel. I walked out with a small holdall, my passport and our joint savings. I managed to find a room in a house share, which is where I’ve been for the last ten months.

I know you said when you left that you felt I had chosen him over you. That is something I’ve had to live with these past years. At first I was angry with you for saying that, but now, I think you were probably right, and it breaks my heart to admit it. How could I have chosen my husband over my daughter? I’ve been an awful mother. I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but please accept this notebook. I’ve been writing in it these last few weeks. There is so much I want to tell you.

I don’t expect your sympathy, I’m not asking you to come and see me, pretend nothing’s happened and pick up where we left off. I know it’s too late for that. But always remember that regardless of what you think of me I have always loved you and I’m so sorry for all the hurt I’ve caused. It will haunt me for the rest of my life.

I hope you are happy and having the wonderful life that you deserve.

Love, always.

Mum x

Ruby closed her eyes and slid down the hallway wall to the cold ceramic tiles, her head spinning, her breathing erratic. And that was where Sam found her, twenty minutes later, clutching her knees to her chest, the notebook on the glossy floor at her feet.

I really don’t know how I managed to read it with all the crossing outs lol

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The general consensus from my writing group was that it was a bit too “tell” which is fair enough. But how do you stop a letter being all tell, because that’s what a letter is isn’t it? Any ideas on another way I could have done it would be much appreciated πŸ™‚

Time Off From The Must Do’s


There is no To Do list this week, for 2 reasons:

1. I deserve time off!

And

2. I thought you’d all want to hear about my reading at the Faber Event last Friday πŸ˜‰

I was still editing my piece on the train journey up to London!

When i arrived we were offered the chance to have a practice reading with Richard Reeves (who tutored SJ Watson). So after watching a few of my fellow students go up to the podium, read, be timed, and then given tips on how to improve their readings I gave it a go. I was nervous, but it was only to be in front of a dozen students.

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My reading came in at 1.50 seconds (our time slots were for 2 minutes) and Richard said my volume was fine (he could hear me perfectly at the back). He said that I could probably afford to pause for slightly longer in a few places, but other than that it was clear and understandable. When I made my way back to my seat my hands were shaking lol.

By 1.30 the room was packed and we took our seats. The readings were in alphabetical order, so of course, I was 21st out of 23 lol….if I’d had known that I would have changed my name! I managed to take this pic before everyone arrived lol.

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I didnt hear a word the guy before me read, all i could hear was my heart pounding and then when they were clapping i knew i had to get up. I was terrified but, everyone else had done so well overcoming their nerves that i was determined to do it. I went up to the podium and said “Hello, my name is Vikki Thompson and this is the opening scene of my novel Still.” It was the only time I looked around the room until I’d finished reading lol. I wasn’t shaking when I finished, but I felt the practice run had been better lol.

After everyone was thanked for coming we got up and seriously, some of the agents made a bee line for certain students, who’d obviously impressed them. They just had to get in first!

We all congregated in another room for drinks and it was then that agents had the full opportunity to approach the students whose work they were interested in. Five people from my class were approached, two of them by two agents.

My tutor Tim came up to me and said I’d done really well, and at that moment I could have burst into tears, the relief, the build up of 6 months was just so overwhelming. He must have seen my face because he asked if I was ok and all I could do was nod lol

I don’t know exactly which agents were there, although I did see one of my class approached by a lady from Curtis Brown.

I wasn’t disappointed that no one approached me and that i didnt get the opportunity to do my “pitch”. I wasn’t expecting anyone to. My fellow students work was so much better, seriously. The ones who went away Friday with requests to submit truly deserved it….I didn’t, and I accept that.

We were given 2 copies of the Anthology. One, I got all my fellow class mates to sign (so that when they’re famous I can flog it for thousands! Just kidding, I’ll treasure it) and the other I signed and wrote a small thank you note to The Hubster, who, has been very supportive with the course and as a taxi service (Thank You!).

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The Anthology will be available on Kindle soon, so I’ll give you the link to that when I have it….just in case you’d like to download it and see my submission. My reading isn’t in there though….I may share that with you at some stage, when I’ve recovered lol

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So now what? I guess I’ll just plod on, keep learning, keep writing….it wasn’t my time, maybe it never will be (and noooo, this isn’t a self pity post, really, I’m fine about it, I’m not even upset, just proud of myself and relieved its over lol). I learnt a lot, had some great experiences, met some fantastic people and can now put on my CV Faber Graduate πŸ™‚

But now, i deserve a rest, don’t you agree? πŸ˜‰

Inspiring? Moi?


Firstly, a HUGE apology….I’m behind with blog reading (haven’t read any this week. But, at the moment I just can’t focus). Today, as you read this, I’ll be in London, doingl my pitch at Faber & Faber to a room full of agents. I’ve been a nervous wreck all week! Will catch up with what you’ve all been up to over the weekend, I promise πŸ™‚

The lovely Katie over at The Intrinsic Writer has nominated me for the Inspiring Blog Award. Thank you so much honey πŸ™‚

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The rules are:
1. Display award image on your blog page
2. Link back to the person who nominated you
3. State what inspires you
4. Nominate 5 others for this award
5. Notify said bloggers

So what inspires me?
Talking to other writers.
Art galleries & museums.
Sitting on the sand/pebbles at the beach and staring out to sea.
Walking in the woods surrounded by trees.
Using brightly coloured pens in my notebooks.
YouTube!
Visiting historic houses.
Sunny days.
Natalie Goldberg, Judy Reeves & Julia Cameron.
Reading great books/writers.
New experiences.
People watching in coffee shops.
Great cpnversation.

The blogs I nominate for this award are:
Sarah Potter
Linda King
Edith at In A Room Of My Own
Sara Kjeldsen
The Write Romantics

Then the wonderful Rustic Recluse nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award….thank you πŸ™‚

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This one is where I have to state 7 things about myself, but, I’m gunna ask you guys to do the work…..Ask me a question…if there’s more than 7 I’ll still answer, promise πŸ˜‰

And the 7 bloggers I nominate for this one are:

Rose Anderson
Magdalena Vandenberg
Nicky Wells
Karen at Karcherry
Catherine Johnson
Debbie at The Wicked Queens Mirror
Sue at Sassy Speaks

Please take a moment to check out all these wonderful bloggers. Now, who has the first question? Ooooo, I’m nervous lol

Faber Session 15 – The Publishing Experience


Because of the threat of snow I was determined to get up to London, so I went earlier. Got off the tube a couple of stops later and found myself in Fortnum & Mason
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As you do πŸ˜‰ This is one serious posh shop people. I just thought I’d have a wander lol. But I kinda found myself in The Parlour, the ice cream parlour!

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After Welsh Rarebit crumpets it was cake time! This is apparently an Estherhazy cake which originates in Austria.

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Looks yummy yeah? Nope….it wasn’t! It was the most sickly thing I’ve ever had 😦 That white stuff isn’t cream, it’s buttercream! So there’s more buttercream than cake! I couldn’t eat it all lol. On the plus side, they give you a mini ice cream with your latte πŸ˜‰

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Anyway, enough of the cake, onto class!

Our guest tutor tonight was Hannah Griffiths (Publishing Director at Faber & Faber) who came to talk to us about publishing. I really don’t know where to begin to be honest, she was brilliant. I learnt so much! So I guess I’ll just share with you some of my notes, some of the things that Hannah said that I found interesting or useful.

She will only read a MS subbed by an agent. For 2 reasons…1. She’s a busy lady, she trusts that an MS sent in by an agent will be worth reading and 2. because she only signs authors who have an agent. Why? because she doesn’t want to spend all her time talking to that author about the business side of things (because she’d rather talk to you about your novel!), explaining stuff to debut authors who don’t know all the stuff about contracts and rights.

TItle is really important! Books with a good, memorable title will often get read on that alone, so make it brilliant!

Polish your MS to perfection. You have a much better chance. Don’t submit before you’re ready to.

Most people over-write the first 2 pages, don’t! Read 10 opening paragraphs of novels considered to be good. Learn from them!

Great authors leave no trace of the turmoil it took to get there. I love that quote πŸ™‚

Be original, assured and confident in your prose, but surprise.

People don’t know what to buy anymore, publishers need to get their shit together (regarding online sales).

A good agent will know the “tastes” of certain editors.

She talked about the publishing industry. Here in the UK our biggest Bookshop chain, Waterstones, are planning on closing a third of their shops in the next couple of years. This will have a major impact on book buying in the UK. Publishers aren’t really that worried about Ebooks. Their problem will be getting debut authors work “out there” and noticed in the years to come. The ordinary man in the street, who buys 4 books a year will be turning to the supermarkets, where there is no author loyalty. It’s just a case of buy what they have.

Hmmmm, it all seems a bit sad, the state of book buying in the UK, and doesn’t fill you with hope 😦 At the moment Amazon seems to have the UK online market sown up. If you walk into a Waterstones you have access to 1000+ books blurbs to make your selection from. You go on to Amazon and you have to scroll through pages of books to find something you might want to read (unless you’re on there for something specific). I know what I prefer, but it seems I’m beginning to be a part of a minority 😦

Sooooo, I learnt that 1. I really should have an agent before anything else and 2. The chances of me becoming a successful novelist within the next 3 years is very slim (tongue firmly in cheek there). But, it does beg the question Where exactly is the publishing industry headed? It’s quite a worry 😦