Today was dominated by the From the Well reading and Q&A that has been looming all week. I was frankly terrified at the prospect, and my imposter syndrome was having a field day after a week of attending talks by proper writers. Whatever about reading my competition short story, sitting in front of an audience talking about writing seemed like a ludicrous notion.
As it turned out, all went well, and I only had to face my second biggest concern [see yesterday’s festival post for ref]. The audience was kind and attentive, turning out in greater numbers than I expected. Mary Rose McCarthy, Silke O’Reilly and I were chuffed to be asked to sign copies of the anthology afterwards, and amazed to hear that the library sold out of available copies.
Did I enjoy being under the spotlight? It isn’t something I could see myself ever being comfortable with, particularly fielding questions, which requires fast thinking under pressure. I would fret too much about giving ridiculous answers and then having to live with the shudders of remembrance for ever afterwards. But it was somewhat easier than I had anticipated, and that was largely down to competition judge and today’s mediator Billy O’Callaghan, who has a very relaxed approach, as well as the library’s staff, who did their best to put us three readers at our ease.
We’re into the final stretch of the workshop now, and still methodically working our way through everyone’s individual submission pieces. There’s definitely a limit to the amount of theory you can take on board before you need to take a step back, process it all and then – hopefully – apply it. I’m really looking forward to having the head space for that in the coming weeks.
One great take-away I have from this week is the idea of doing lists, something Dean Bakopoulos is a big fan of. This can be very useful in outlining a novel, ie. setting out everything and anything from character traits to what scenes need to be covered, in any order to begin with.
Finding an agent
I made a very last-minute decision to go along to the agent talk by Karolina Sutton from Curtis Brown in London. There were many valuable nuggets of information here, including advice about what to include in a spec letter to an agent (no longer than a page, 2-3 paragraphs with a brief description of the type of manuscript you’re submitting, ie. thriller, literary fiction, historical etc, and perhaps a mention of writers you admire who write in a similar style). Karolina also advised that if you’ve submitted to one particular agent because you would like to be taken on by them specifically, you could mention that you are only approaching them and why.
I’m beginning to wonder if the husband and daughter have shares in Organico Cafe because they were back there again today.
Daughter gave the chocolate brownie 10/10, while harder-to-please husband insisted on using the phrase “pleasingly competent” to describe the rhubarb slice he chose. I interpret this as meaning, “Well, it’s no lentil burger…”, which will only make sense if you’ve read yesterday’s post.
No book collaboration occurred because they’ve clearly become immune to sugar rushes.
Day 5 here