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oooh I am being such a pansy about 'connecting'

(17 Posts)
phdlife Sat 16-Jun-12 23:40:50

I'm a SAHM former academic thinking I'd like to give writing a bash. I've written a novel but I realise that's fairly pointless unless I know a lot more about the industry - and the only way to do that is to talk to people, especially in this country (not UK) where the industry consists of about 47 people who all have nieces or next door neighbours with novels more worthy than mine. (Go on, ask me about the How to Get Published seminar I went to last year!) I know full well I'm not going to meet anyone who can help in between playdates out here in Darkest Suburbia. (Ask me about my local writers' group!)

So I know, I know, I really need to Get Out There, somehow, because I do want to be published.

But. But but but BUT.

I don't like other writers. I never have. (No offence to readers of this forum wink.) I don't want to talk about my work with other writers. (except, perhaps, with you.) I definitely don't want to hear about theirs. (this might all change, of course, if I found people writing about similar stuff to mine, but right now the only people I know even vaguely write futuristic military thrillers or have Lofty Ambitions - gak.) I don't have a literary cell in my body - I read things with embossed, swirly-scripted titles and I tend to like stuff that is a little obscure. (Some of the biggest names in my preferred genre write awful edit-free twaddle.) I don't want to be a big seller myself, just write the sort of faintly intelligent rubbish that I like to read. And I really, really don't want to fork out money to register for a group which I won't enjoy because I doubt my two cents' is worth putting in now that five years of parenting has completely eaten my brain and I can't string a single paragraph together without having to change two nappies, administer a dose of antibiotics, wipe up some spilled milk, dole out strawberries and break up a one-girl lego-snatching ring.

Can I just be clear - I would be happy - delighted - over the moon! - to have useful critique, but ime that is extremely rare and difficult to find, and most of what you get is, "ooh, I like that bit" or "not my cup of tea but jolly good, carry on" or "your writing is crap, not like John Le Carre at all". When I was writing academic stuff I found the refereeing process excruciating because feedback would be "this is glib" instead of "you need to take closer account of existing arguments".

Am I actually just too misanthropic to be a writer?

thanks for your time. now I'm going back into my cave to feed the children their breakfast, have a shower, bust up the reformed and now very loud lego-snatching ring, force them into some clothes and take them out to see Jimmy Giggle at the local shopping centre. see what I mean?

TheHouseOnTheCorner Sun 17-Jun-12 01:06:35

Why don't you try to get published via a UK publisher or agent? You've written a novel...just get it out there. Send it out.

vivandtom Sun 17-Jun-12 12:20:12

I've written a novel but I realise that's fairly pointless unless I know a lot more about the industry

This doesn't make sense/isn't true - you don't need to know about 'the industry' to write a good book and get it published.

You've done the hard bit. Go and buy a copy of the Writers and Artists Yearbook and start approaching the agents listed there.

All safely done from your back bedroom toosmile

Merrylegs Sun 17-Jun-12 12:27:52

"I've written a novel but I realise that's fairly pointless unless I know a lot more about the industry"

If you've written a novel with a view to it being published, then the fairly pointless bit is not sending it out.

The only thing more you need to know about the industry is the address to send it to.

Writers and Artists is good. Also, look at where your book might fit. Compare it to other books on the shelves. (Is it sci-fi? Send it to a sci-fi publisher. Chick lit? - ditto)

And then, actually - just send it.

Alurkatsoftplay Sun 17-Jun-12 12:37:31

I don't think its true that all writers have friends or family in the industry. Most maybe but not all!
If its good critiquing you're after, then you might have to pay for it. Or you could ask a book group to read it and give you the feedback (I did that and did find it more helpful than you have outlined...)
If its publishing you want, then you'll just have to bite the bullet and send it off...
Good luck!

Alurkatsoftplay Sun 17-Jun-12 12:41:56

Some of the best writers are misanthropes, surely, so that won't disqualify you.

Abra1d Sun 17-Jun-12 13:04:36

I didn't have connections in the publishing world and eventually, after four years of nearly fulltime work on my writing, managed to land a contract.

There are a number of very good writers' online forums. I have posted on this subject before and can not find my previous post, but Write Words (i think that is the right spelling) and Backspace come to mind. I have and continue to have excellent critiques from friends all round the world. Failing that, you could invest in a critique from somewhere like The Literary Consultancy, who have a very good reputation.

Saying you do not like other writers is illogical as they are not a single class of people. What unites us is a passion for the written word and for books, a tolerance for and curiosity for other people's views and passions, and a deep desire to improve our writing and to try and survive in an increasingly harsh publishing climate. I rarely meet any of my writer friends In the flesh as I can not afford to travel much, but we have a good online support system going. I could not manage without it.

Punkatheart Sun 17-Jun-12 13:20:04

Sorry but there really do have to be connections made and Abra1d is right - you cannot dislike ALL writers. But you must also read, read, read if you hope to be published. Critiqueing other writers also teaches you as much as writing.

Novelist Sun 17-Jun-12 15:53:00

Why would you need to connect with other writers at this point if you don't want to? All you need to do is write something fantastic, then 'connect' with agents/publishers. All that requires is a businesslike email (plus your pitch, sample chapters and synopsis, of course). If you're talking about Twitter and the like, you really don't need to do that if you don't want to, though I can't say I know any publishers/agents right now who would applaud an anti-social media stance.

Punkatheart Sun 17-Jun-12 22:45:30

There are many reasons why you should connect with others writers, at all stages of the writing process. Everyone needs improvement and being critiqued. Also, when you do become a published author, mixing with other writers and attending events is part and parcel of being a writer. You will need to be edited. Like it or loathe, all writers now have to be more social than they might like.

No writer lives in a vaccum these days - that went out with Salinger.

vivandtom Mon 18-Jun-12 17:45:12

No writer lives in a vaccum these days - that went out with Salinger.

Totally disagree with you on that one, especially in the Lit. fiction world (although I accept this is not what the OP is writing).

It's worth noting that writers often have limits on exactly how much they are willing to contribute to other writers and so networking with them for critiques may well be a waste of time. Other writers are also not always the best judges of your work.
Other writers are mainly interested in their own work.

If you're already at the point of doing book festivals, then you've got quite a name already.

Absolutely agree with 'read, read, read' - something many aspiring writers definitely neglect.

Ultimately though, if your writing is good enough to sell then it will be published - it's all about the money.

If you can sell books, then you're in charge. Your publisher/agent may try and persuade you to do more 'public/social' stuff but as long as you're putting bread on their tables none of them are going to turn you away - no matter how reclusive you want to be.

phdlife Tue 26-Jun-12 23:01:47

I think punk is right. It may be less true in a bigger market like the UK but it is absolutely true here. I just feel so badly at a loss as to how to start - I feel old, worried about starting something new in a town where my connections are pretty much limited to family and my bff who I see only once every 10 weeks. And having spent the last six years up to my eyeballs in nappies, lego and meltdowns of one sort or another, I feel I've lost any professional mojo I may once have had - and the How to Get Published seminar I went to was so discouraging.

viv it's flattering I can't imagine where you might get idea that I might be at point of doing book festivals. Closest I've ever been is Hay the week before. Once. A long time ago.

thanks Abra1d for the practical pointers. Might help to get me started that way...

vivandtom Wed 27-Jun-12 16:23:45

Sorry, I didn't realise you were in Australia until now - do you still have to be a criminal to live there? ;)

That totally puts a different slant on things. When I was at Uni we had a visiting writing fellow from an Australian writing university and we swapped one back.

Yup - it's not really like here. So how do writers generally do things? Do they send stuff to overseas publishers or is there enough of a 'home' industry to support Australian writers? I guess you've kind of answered that with a 'no' already.

Some of the online forums and stuff can be absolutely dire - the blind leading the blind kind of thing.

If I was in your shoes, I'd be sending stuff to UK agents. After all, lots of them encourage email submissions these days so your geographical location isn't so important straight off.

Novelist Wed 27-Jun-12 21:59:31

Are you in Australia, phd (I didn't read that...)? If so, I really don't think it's true that you need to 'know' people. Has taken me forever to get to that kind of point in Australia and that has only been through publishing my work, not through networking for the sake of networking in order to get published, if you know what I mean.

If you are in Australia, there are some really great organisations (Qld Writers Centre, Sydney Writers Centre etc.) and lots of really great online courses (Qld Writers Centre is particularly good at these). But, yes, if you want to make a real living, you do need to look overseas. Personally, I wouldn't bother with UK agents (think it is just as hard to break in here as in Australia, if not more so), but would look to either Aussie or US agents.

Still, that's all really not the point. The point is to write an amazing novel that everyone will want to buy. That's all you really need to know and the rest is unimportant! In this game, all you can control is the writing. Get zen with that and you'll be fine! (Unfortunately it's very, very difficult to get zen with that!)

phdlife Wed 27-Jun-12 23:13:57

lol, viv - no, but liking sport is still compulsory <sigh>

Have thought about approaching UK agents - novel is set in UK so thought that might help. (But it has an Aussie protagonist, and the next one I want to write is set here, so...)

Novelist, it was indeed a Qld Writers' Centre talk that so depressed me last year. 3 panellists said it was down to the brilliance of the writing, nothing to do with the fact that their dad was poet laureate/mum was top agent/best friend was editor at Simon & Schuster that got them started. hmm Then last woman blew in late, missing all the foregoing, and said, it's a complete lie that you can get in on brilliance of your writing, you absolutely MUST have an agent, and the only way I got mine was by literally throwing myself at her at Varuna, and you have to go to things like that in order to meet people. hmm hmm

I can't imagine I'm going to write an amazing novel that everyone will want to buy. smile I just want to carve a little niche at the smarter end of chicklit, but I don't even know if they call it that any more iykwim. Think I should probably just throw it in a drawer and write the next thing, then come back and see whether it has any legs.

Novelist Thu 28-Jun-12 06:06:38

You know something? If I'd listened to other people, I'd have stopped writing after my first book was published. I was found in the slush (no fabulous connections) and got an agent after being offered that first contract (chick-lit, which is now 'contemporary women's fiction'). My next ms was turned down and I floundered. I was young and my agent was hopeless (no advice, just left me to it). When I look back, I could easily have never written again, but somehow, after a year or so, managed to pick myself up and dust myself off and keep going. I wrote another ms and that was finally picked up in the US.

Am not saying any of this to boast (geez, there is little to boast about and it has been hard going), but if you want to get on in this industry, especially these days, you have to want it very, very, badly. To the point where you are quite driven. They have to publish someone. Why shouldn't it be you?

I wouldn't go to any of the kind of seminars you went to, but would do things like their 'year of the novel' and then 'year of the edit' courses etc.. Just concentrate on the writing. It's all you can control and without writing and completing more mss, you can't sell. It's all about the writing!

phdlife Thu 28-Jun-12 21:38:23

thanks, novelist. I really do appreciate that. I can't not write - that part's hardwired. But I am old and tired (two pre-schoolers) and even when I carve myself an hour (up at 5:30 this morning!) I don't seem to achieve much (dc1 up at 5:34, sat on my lap 15mins then begged to be taken back to bed and dc2 at 6:20, and oh, here they both are again - it just doesn't often feel like my wanting gets me anywhere much. I'm not financially able to 'want' writing so much as to be able to pay for extra childcare, and the little free time I do get is split between writing and appointments that I need to do with one or no kids. ok, am being bombarded with questions, there's another para unfinished...

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