Tuesday 22nd November 2022 – WIP 25,210 words, currently reading Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk – Kathleen Rooney (brilliant!), agent submissions 44, rejections 25 (six positive – personal highlight – ‘there is definitely something here and worth you pursuing elsewhere’), three coffees, two teas and one Eccles cake
Other than stories for school or childhood play, I didn’t start writing creatively until 2007. I was 30. Studying for my undergrad degree I had childcare commitments that meant the only module available to me was creative writing – with apprehension I booked my daughter into nursery and signed myself up. The next fifteen years brought child #2, a teaching career, and a plethora of creative endeavours, and here we are in 2022 and I am still writing.
In 2019 an MA seemed like a sensible choice – a qualification that pursued my passion and I hoped, at the end of that yellow brick road, I might find an agent. I am now a year post-graduation and there remains no agent on the horizon. I am still writing.
Over those fifteen years I have published an online picture book with Alfie Dog Fiction, Randall the Rattle Snake; two pieces of flash fiction for the Running Out of Ink webzine, Alice and Jilted (despite telling all my students ‘everything that goes online stays online’ these appear to have vanished into an internet graveyard); two teaching articles for TES and a short story for MIR Online, The Call of Water. I have written three middle grade novels (one possibly feeling some genre-confusion with YA) and two adult novels. A third sits in my bottom drawer (my first novel from that daunting undergrad module) and now, post MA, reads like a giant synopsis. All these projects were written whilst working full time and parenting and partnering my way through the years (cue big thank you to my supportive husband).
So lack of hard work isn’t slowing my publishing journey. Nor does a lack of ideas. My recent rejection letters are encouraging and full of positivity, all but their final lines ‘not for their list’. My cover letters are targeted and personalised. I do my research online and use the Writers’ and Artists’ Handbook. I have read so many blogs and lost count of author/agent/publisher events that I have been to, and now think I could deliver one for other aspiring writers without a crib sheet.
Self-publish my non-writer friends say (and some writer friends say it too) but I work full-time and if I commit to that route, when will I find time to write? I am part of a writers’ group that socialise and support each other, and another that critique each others’ work. I have chaired three literary festivals supporting debut authors along the way. I run pop-up book clubs for other avid readers. I love my literary life but still I long to be traditionally published. I wish I knew why but can only suspect that it boils down to a need for third party validation.
In my capacity as a teacher of writing, I have redesigned how we teach KS3 and am piloting ways to engage KS2 with writing in a similar way. I run book clubs and writers’ clubs at school – making sure my pupils know this is a career path they can follow (it was such a pipe dream for me that I never considered it worth pursuing). Books are my life and I know from Twitter and all the literary festival/author events I attend, that I am not alone. #amwriting #amediting #amquerying #amreading
So why am I blogging and not querying/writing/editing/reading? Well, I’m still doing all of those things but I need an outlet where I can record the rest of my journey because I am determined to get to the publication destination at the end of my yellow brick road. And I’m also pretty sure all of my family and friends are tired of hearing me trying to will the universe to ‘pick me’.
I want to share my love for writing and reading with you and in return I need your support on my journey to publication. Please come along for the ride and let me know your stories in the comments below.
P.S. Big thanks to Jane Friedman for the invaluable advice about blogging. Find it here https://www.janefriedman.com/blogging-for-writers/