Bernard Black

A Date With A Room

As mentioned, tomorrow I’m off to the Festival Of Writing in York. For the folks in the UK, it’s maybe not much of a trip, but seeing as I’m in the frozen wastes of Sweden, it takes a tad longer for me. Getting up at four in the morning and stumbling onto a bus is such a precious treat.

As also mentioned, I was one of those picked out to read my 500-word piece to the assembled throng on Friday night. What I recently learned is that only seven people were chosen and, according to the previous winners, you will have the attention of every agent in the room for the evening. Which is damn nice.

It feels that things are moving along, writing-wise. The last year was the first time I felt that my fiction writing was good enough. As in, I wrote things I feel proud of, and can read them back and go “wow, is that mine?” I received a few positive no-thanks from agents, and one agent even asked me for a whole manuscript, a rare occurrence. Which she rejected (for good reasons) but just being asked for it made me stupidly happy.

So maybe this is the break I’ve been working towards. And if it’s not, it doesn’t matter that much. Because something occurred to me a few months ago: I’m not writing to be rich or famous or spotted in the street. Well, clearly I am, a bit, but it’s not the major reason. I’m writing to become a better writer, to be proud of what I put down. And as long as I keep doing that, interest from agents and publishers will come. Realising this has made me a great deal happier about the whole enterprise. If I can see an upward trend in my writing ability, then I’m doing it right.

For those looking for a snappy summary, here’s what I’ve gleaned from my years nosing around the periphery of the publishing trade. If you want to get a book accepted and published:

1) Write a great book
2) Don’t be an arsehole.

It’s really not any harder, or easier, than that.

/ paddy