A few weeks ago the lovely Lucy Ribchester and I headed along to SummerhallTV for a wee chat about the New Writer Awards and all things book and writing related. It was fun. I was nervous. It turns out I gesticulate a lot more than I thought I did. Interviewer Nicole Brandon was lovely and we nattered on for ages. Overall, a nice first-ever on screen interview experience.
This weekend myself and Lucy Ribchester, another Edinburgh writer, will talk with Marc Lambert of Scottish Book Trust about what winning a New Writer’s Award has done for us. We’re also planning to chat about the challenges of getting your debut novel noticed and published – as well as offering a few tips and words of encouragement! We’ll also be reading from the novels we’re currently working on – cue nerves!
The event is free and takes place at 12.30pm, Sunday 6 October, at Portobello Library. Come along to share your thoughts and questions. The festival is packed with other excellent treats, all free of charge, including an impressive selection of authors discussing Scottish independence later in the afternoon. On the previous Friday, I’ll also be taking part in the gala opening of the festival, which has the theme 1963: The Start of the Modern Era and has lots of readers, live music and even a 60s fashion show. Take a peek at the Porty Programme.
I wrote a wee blog for the lovely folk at the Scottish Book Trust about my (many) experiences applying for their New Writers Award. It took me four goes to strike it lucky and that’s why I wanted to write a blog about not taking no for an answer when it comes to writing. Read the blog.
I’ve also been working very, very hard on not giving up when it comes to putting pen to paper. That’s not just in the last year, that one’s been taking a lot longer, but it’s finally been starting to pay off. I submitted no less than eight stories to the great Gutter, one after another, before I handed in one they liked enough to print this summer. Obviously, it would have felt good to have an immediate acceptance, but I think it was even better to have to try and try again. It certainly felt pretty sweet when I got the email.
The same feeling is hitting me this month, when I found out I’d been successful in securing a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust. This is not the first year I’ve applied, it’s not even the second, and yes, I was a little bit crushed every time I didn’t make it, but if I hadn’t been willing to keep trying, well, I wouldn’t have got it this year.
Perseverance definitely pays off, but I do also think you have to be gentle with yourself. This year, I’ve mainly been working on a novel and I decided that while I was, I’d cut back on the number of short story submissions I was sending out. Why? Because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the inevitable flood of rejections while I was trying to work on something bigger. I was worried they’d make me lose faith when I needed to work in a bubble. It’s been good for me but it’s temporary. I always knew you had to keep slamming those keys no matter what, but now I’m completely convinced that if you keep trying hard enough, things will work out one way or another when it comes to words.