Congratulations to Jan Edwards on the publication of Leinster Gardens and Other Subtleties. A collection of truly chilling ghost stories one of which “Nanny Burrows” lingers long in the mind.
That’s one piece of good news from this writer. The other, even more recent announcement, is that her story has been accepted for the “Mammoth Book of Moriaty.” Apologies if that isn’t quite the right title.
Now obviously Jan is more than pleased, but her good news made me reflect on how we writers deal with other people’s success. In a world where the rejection letter, or more commonly e mail is standard it would be natural to suffer a quick pang of envy when friends and fellow writers get a book or story accepted.
Natural but misguided. The fact that someone else is doing well does not preclude the same thing happening to you. In fact it gives hope that stories and books are being published, that you don’t have to be a J.K Rowling or John Grisham to see your work in print.
Other people’s success should give us all a boost and is to be celebrated.
Still thinking about whether writing can be taught, I found myself pondering about what I really need to learn about the whole business.
Grammar punctuation and structure was covered at school. I was lucky I went to an old fashioned girls’ grammar school and was taught by the inspirational Sister Mary Edward.
Creativity can be nourished, by day dreaming, reading, long walks and whatever else gets the alpha waves flowing.
The rest is hard grind. For me a daily word total and editing, re-editing and editing some more.
What I want and need to know is about the technology of writing in the 21st Century. I can use a PC; love using Face Book and am OK with Twitter, but I am totally useless when it comes to the visual side of things.
Presentation, formatting of manuscripts, Printerest, Instamgram, how to design the book covers I have in my head; how to make my blog exciting and different, that’s what I need to know. And I would suggest I’m not the only one.
So, are there any courses like that out there?
Years ago there was a correspondence course that promised to teach you how to write and earn money from your writing. If you hadn’t covered your fees by the end of the course they guaranteed to repay them.
Their adverts quoted satisfied customers and I was tempted to sign but lack of money and a certain cynicism stopped me. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had. Would I now be earning my living from my writing? Somehow I doubt it. Few writers make enough to live on, most of us have to supplement our income in other ways, mostly by the day job. If you’re really lucky you have a wealthy spouse or partner, but that’s for another blog.
What intrigues me, however, is what did that course teach. Is it possible to learn how to write? The nuts and bolts of the craft can be taught; that’s the stuff of what used to be called English Composition lessons at school, but what about imagination and creativity?
The ability, no the need, to look at and interpret life in a unique and different way. Above all a writer needs to have a passion for writing. It’s both a gift and a curse and something I think that comes from so deep inside that you are probably born with the need to tell stories. Either you have it, or you don’t. So how does a writing course make a writer?