Festival Of Writing

The Return Of Leprechaun Man

Well that went well.

I just spent three days in York at the Festival Of Writing and I can safely say I have never had a more fun time. What an amazing bunch of people, and what a great experience. Three days of intense focus on writing and all things related, with a whole lot of socialising. I’ve never been to a place where it was easier to walk up to strangers and just get along with them. And I’m not by nature a very social person, but at the FOW it was simple and it was fun and fuck it I want to go back.

On the Friday evening I stood on the main stage and read out my stuff in front of bloody everyone. It must have been two hundred people watching, and I was one of only seven finalists. Nerves were wracked and rolled and toasted. But, long story short, my piece well down very well and, in a very tight vote, I scored second place.The bar staff told me they rooted for me to win, which I think means I actually won in a Tom Waits sort of universe.

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The fuzzy view from the stage

My prize: the attention of agents, three of whom said to send the book to them when it’s done. Which in this business is fucking gold. I also earned some momentary fame, with people coming up to tell me they liked my piece all weekend. Although, because my piece concerned leprechauns, I was known as “leprechaun man” for the duration of the festival. Oh well.

One person I met who deserves a shout-out was science fiction writer Hal Duncan, with whom I hung out a bit and drank many beers. A friendly, brilliant and interesting individual, I recommend that you all go buy his book, Vellum, which I’ve just started reading. It is, in a word, fucking whammo.

Now all I have to do is get my book done and ready for sending out to those agents who expressed an interest. I figure it’s completely ready in February, unless I can get my job to honour my ongoing request to work a bit less than full time, which they don’t seem to want to do. So that means early mornings, late nights, and all weekends for a bunch of months until Rare Beasts is ready to hit those inboxes, slushpiles, dart boards and cat boxes and the next stage in the slow crushing of my soul may commence.

But yeah – next year, go to York!

/ paddy

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

Friday Night In York

Well now, who would have thought a relevant topic would come up this quickly? 

Feeling shy to speak-756129I am off to the Festival Of Writing in York next weekend, for talks, workshops, meetings with agents and various social events with lots of other writers. It’s a great chance to make contacts, maybe get an agent interested, but for me it’s also just great fun to hang out with writers and speak English for a whole weekend. Swedes understand English, of course, but it’s not the same as being able to freely talk shite (as we say in Ireland) with other native speakers. 

There’s a contest on the Friday night, called “Friday Night Live” where you submit up to 500 words, of any piece you might have to hand. The best ones will get the chance to read out their piece to the whole assembled group — writers, agents, waiters, whoever. Massive instant exposure. And — hah! — I was chosen. Holy crapping crap. There’s a whole lot of excitement in the Kelly Mansions right now, I can tell you. And plenty of cartoon squealing.

Now for a week of test-reading in front of a mirror while deciding what shirt to wear. And whether or not I should wear nail varnish. I’m thinking yes. Coal black. If nothing else, they’ll sure as hell remember that.

/ paddy