Archive for February, 2011

Is pain a gateway to creativity?

A gifted author decided to open up on a writers’ forum of which I am a member, about the recent death of his pet cat. It was not so much the subject that touched others as well as myself, but the way he wrote about the passing of his beloved member of the family.

He waited with his pet at the vets while the poor creature was put to sleep due to terrible injuries. The writer talked about looking into his cat’s eyes and realising the moment life left its damaged body; the visibility of separation.

 

I found his account moving and honest.

After a few private tears (memories triggered of my own losses), I began thinking about death and pain; about how we use the negative emotions they create and channel them into our work.

Could any of us write about death, pain, loss or hurt in a believable way without ever experiencing any or all of them for ourselves? I think not.

I read in a recent article that a certain amazing British soul singer / ex heroin addict wrote her best-selling album whilst going through the terrible pain of a break up, and has not found it so easy now that her life is in order……….

So, to reiterate the questions above: is death / loss a gateway to real life, and to the life of your writing?

Does the pain we are forced to endure open up our creative floodgates?

What are your feelings on this? Feel free to tell me about any of your own experiences, i’m interested. What emotions trigger your most impressive / believable writing?

Feel free to post in the comments section. If you agree, I would like to use your experiences in a future blog post.

In my last blog I mentioned that I would be attending a couple of writers’ conferences this year in a bid to better my skills and network with other mad people who choose to write. Writing can be a lonely occupation, so any opportunity to get out there and socialise is grabbed with both hands.

York Festival of Writing was recommended by a friend and fellow author so I have decided to give it a go, be brave and get my work and face out there (scary, the face that is!).

In this blog I wanted to give other aspiring authors details about the conference and the wonderful authors/agents/publishers holding workshops and one-to-one sessions. After attending the conference, I will give honest feedback, so watch this space.

The Festival at a Glance

25-27 March, University of York, UK

A brief selection of the many agents in attendance:

Carole Blake; Agent to bestselling authors including Sheila Flanagan, Joseph O’Connor, Barbara Erskine – and author of Pitch to Publication.

Antony Topping & Judith Murray; Antony and Judith are senior agents at Greene and Heaton, and represent such big names as Sarah Waters,Marcus du Sautoy, CJ Sansom, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall & many more.

Simon Trewin (pictured): Co-head of Books at United Agents. Represents Richard Curtis, Nicci French, etc.

 

 

The Specialists / publishers

In their words;

“We’ve also invited specialist agents & publishers who know the market you are writing for. Among many others …”

John Jarrold: The best known specialist in science-fiction / fantasy / horror in the UK. If you write in this area, you HAVE to meet him

Julia Churchill (pictured): Julia is an agent devoted 100% to the children’s & Young Adult market. No one knows this market better.

(I met Julia at Winchester Writers’ Conference and found her to be warm and encouraging.)

 

Jane Holland & Lyn Vernham: Specialist publishers of women’s fiction & romance. And you don’t need an agent to get published by them either!

Philippa Pride: Philippa is Stephen King’s UK editor at Hodder, and is the person responsible for his entire range. She’s also a consultant who loves working with new writers.

 

 

Alan Mahar: Alan runs Tindal Street Press, one of Britain’s smallest but most prestigious publishers. About 25% of its entire output having won or been shortlisted for national literary awards.

Patrick Janson-Smith: As joint MD at Doubleday / Transworld, Patrick discovered authors such as Bill Bryson, Sophie Kinsella, Andy McNab, Joanna Trollope, and many more. Patrick now runs his own imprint at HarperCollins.

Nicola Morgan: Vastly successful author of YA & children’s fiction. No one knows this territory better. Nicola also hosts the successful, amazing and informative blog; Help! I need a publisher!

(I have my one-to-one appointment with Nicola, so i’m excited to receive her advice.)

http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com/

 

Amazing authors that are leading some of the mini courses / sessions available;

Finding Your Voice, with Debi Alper & Dr Emma Darwin – Two experienced and extraordinary authors

Getting Published, with Harry Bingham & Helen Corner – Harry Bingham in organiser of the festival (along with his small army of helpers!). Helen Corner is co-author of, Teach Yourself: How to Write a Blockbuster.

 

Kate Williams (pictured): The vastly popular historian and author of publishing sensation The Pleasures of Men.

Learn from the professionals


Learn how to plot
With Jeremy Sheldon. Novelist, screenwriter & tutor at Birkbeck College, London.

Showing not telling
With novelist Jean Fullerton. If you’re confused about what this rule means, you don’t have to be.

Breaking the Rules
With Debi Alper. You know the rules – but what if you want to break them? Debi tells you how (and how not to) proceed.

 

There are many more exciting authors / professionals listed on the website so please go and take a look.

http://www.festivalofwriting.com/

I look forward to seeing you there……….