Monthly Archives: March 2014
Networking is king, or so we’re told. No use you sitting in your stuffy garret, beating a keyboard all day and night. No use in writing the next literary masterpiece, not now that the traditional publishing gates are grinding forever shut. Writers, like it or not, need to get out there and meet fellow writerkin, publishers, editors and agents.
That was the mantra running through my head as I entered Appleton Tower, that travesty of modern ‘architecture’ seated at the heart of Edinburgh University’s inner-city campus. The Uni was holding its biggest ever creatives festival, a week long bonanza of talks and tabling. This was it, my final-year big chance to make the golden handshake and get that all-hallowed elevator pitch publication deal.
I blame all those Twitter hashtag abbreviations and whirlwind blog posts about the big US publishing fairs for creating unrealistic expectations. No champagne witticisms or business cards for me, only lecture rooms rammed with other sweaty young writer wannabes, giving each other the Evil Eye, or awkward half-conversations over a nigh-on deserted, bare table.
Of course, compared to the big publishing fairs this thing was small fry, but it was still an abject lesson in networking realities. How does one strike up a conversation with an agent, let alone without making it painfully obvious that all you want this person to do is sign you up? The advice is always ‘network,’ less so on how to actually go about it. It doesn’t help that the writer stereotype is one of quiet introversion. Whilst I wouldn’t say I quite fall into those ranks, I’m still young and inexperienced enough to suffer crippling doubt over the worthyness of my work. I still have the newbie writer hangup – I want to write, I don’t want to shove it in people’s faces, especially not for someone who has seen it all before. That’s a case, it seems, of simple immaturity on my part.
Like everything, I’m sure practice will make perfect. I’m hoping on getting a fetch and carry job at Edinburgh’s Book Festival this August – Scotland is a literary nation, and Edinburgh’s its hub, so I really don’t have any excuses for having singularly failed to even attempt some networking in the four years I’ve lived and studied here. The first effort was a bit of a flop, the second… well, we’ll see.
The above image hopefully explains where I’ve been since February. Yes folks, that’s a 12,000-word history dissertation for the University of Edinburgh, and I handed it in four days back (and yes, I also have a tshirt with my dissertation subject on it. Because I love him). Two weeks, incidentally, before the deadline. The turn-in staff were suitably shocked, but I guess that’s what you get when you’ve trained yourself, writer-style, to churn out an inordinate amount of words per day (disclaimer – academic is very different from fiction writing, do not try this at home kids).
So, now that my student future is pretty much tied up (I’m down to 1.5 hours of class a week, and just two more exams before graduation day!) I can afford to cut loose with a little blogging once more. And what better way to do it than a new SITREP update?
Firstly, the aquila-eyed among you may have noticed that I’ve had my 10th short story published. Double digits, woo! The tale itself, available in ebook format, is actually my first foray into purely historical fiction, weird considering that the genre’s always been my first love. The Clock Stuck War, courtesy of Mardibooks, is an anthology of short stories written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One. My own story is set in the trenches, but there are plenty more covering conflicts that span the ages. Some of them are absolutely brilliant – think I’m just hyping? Try clicking the ‘Look Inside’ on Amazon and read the opening of ‘The Wager.’ Tell me you don’t want to read on.
On the novel side, things have also been progressing well, in between citation footnotes on that good ol’ dissertation. Last week I wrote those two words all writers dream of – THE END. The end, that is, of draft number 2 of Ironfang, officially making it my longest-running novel to date. There’s still reams of work to be done though – plot, plot, plot, typo, plot. If anyone wants to volunteers themselves as a beta reader, I’d love to return the favour on your own work.
Edinburgh’s been rather busy writing-wise as well – the University recently hosted its biggest ever Creatives fair, including a day-long fest of talks and tabling by publishers, agents and other assorted writerly characters. A full blogpost on the day will be coming at some point, but suffice to say it was all an eye-opening experience.
Lastly, a brief bounce-back to Ironfang. Last month a new small press, Midnight Frost, expressed interest in my outline for the novel. I’m undecided whether or not to submit to them yet – they publish everything from shorts through to novels. Feel free to go check them out. That’s what Paper Vultures is all about, after all. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.