Monday, 22 February 2010

Turn Up

Woody Allen was asked how to become a success, and his answer was: 'Turn up.'  It's the answer if we want to succeed in writing too.  We need to turn up.  First, and above everything else, we need to turn up at the page and do the actual writing. I spent my twenties wishing I had written a novel before it dawned on me that to be a novelist I actually had to write the wretched thing.  And you can't write a novel without turning up at the page on a consistent basis - 100,000 words is a lot of typing.

But as well as turning up at the page, we need to turn up to the world of writing.  We need to get involved. Go to conferences, subscribe to magazines like Mslexia or Writers Forum, join writing groups, follow writers on Twitter and Facebook, read writing blogs, join writing societies, attend writing classes, subscribe to daily publishing news digests like or The Bookseller so you're up to date with the world of publishing.  

After a while you'll become recognised, then accepted as part of the writing world yourself. Perhaps there are some people who don't need to get involved to get published, who can loll around in some ivory tower and magically land a wonderful publishing deal.  Personally, I've yet to meet them, although I have met depressing numbers of people who seem to think it's enough for them to have written a novel, they don't need to bother with getting involved with the publishing world.  Then they get bitter when they don't get published, claiming publishing is clique.  

In my experience publishing is anything but a clique.  It's open to anyone and everyone, but no one is going to push the door open for you.  You have to do it yourself.  Turn up, and get published.


Rebecca said...

Hi Sarah,

I'm an avid reader of your blog. It's my daily inspiration! I was wondering how you go about finding short story contests to apply to. I want to start, but have no idea where to even begin.

Thanks so much.

Blossom said...

Hi Sarah,

Your last para gives every aspiring author hope. I'm so glad you wrote that publishing is not a clique. I have to say that the writers I follow on Twitter (including you) have been open and helpful. And anyone connected with the RNA seems very friendly.

Turn up, it's a great quote.

ATB, Blossom

Sarah Duncan said...

Hi Rebecca - ooh it's wonderful - and a bit scary - to be someone's daily inspiration. I'll do something on short story comps asap.

I'm judging the Wells prize this year BTW, but I don't think they've officially announced the rules, dates etc.

Blossom - if publishing IS a clique then I'm a very stupid and thick skinned person not to have noticed. I didn't have a clue when I started, but turned up and now...well, I hope I'm not as clueless. Hope the rewrite is going well

ATB Sarah