Don’t Give Up – Not Now!
I met up with a friend yesterday who is writing for children. Her book is fantastic but she’s had a few rejections – perfectly normal state of affairs, even for fab books.
She’s been chipping away, trying to get published for eighteen months now. She’s been doing all the right things – going to Children’s Books Ireland talks on getting published, keeping her eye out for new children’s publishers and agents and submitting her book to them (jeepers, some of them take so long to get back to people – and some don’t even acknowledge that they have received a manuscript which is so tough on writers), reading award winning children’s books, writing new books . . .
but she’s starting to get disillusioned.
‘I feel like giving up, Sarah,’ she said. ‘Is there any point in going on?’
‘Don’t give up,’ I told her. ‘You’re nearly there. Do you have any idea how many people drop out of writing at this stage? You’re eighteen months ahead of those starting out, and if you keep going you’ll be even more ahead. You’re building up contacts, getting your name out there, finding out about the …
One of my best friends, Martina Devlin, is writing another historical novel. Her last one, Ship of Dreams, based on fictional Titanic survivors, took her years to research (and was a huge success) and this one is no different. She spent hours in my Mum’s house last week reading old family memoirs, newspaper cuttings and books on – well, I can’t say as it’s her book, not mine. But the point being, she spent many, many hours looking up tiny details like what a cup of tea cost in the early 20th century, and what people gave as wedding presents in those days (it was all listed in the newspapers of the day and makes fascinating reading).
Most writers need to do research – even if their book is set in the present time. At the moment I am researching elephants. One of my main characters, Arietty, is an elephant keeper in Dublin zoo. No, I have no idea why, she just is. It happens sometimes – characters come into your mind pretty much fully formed.
Elephants are very interesting animals – I’ve read several books on them now and I’ve found out all kinds of things. Did you know …
Piece I wrote for the Guide to Evening Classes – no harm in repeating the tips! SarahX
Want to Finally Write that Novel?
6 Things That Just Might Help
So you want to finally write that book you’ve been talking about for years. You know the one, the story about an office/ad agency/warehouse/school, featuring quirky characters worthy of Marian Keyes, dialogue as cracking as Roddy Doyle’s, the wit of Oscar Wilde, the warmth of Maeve Binchy.
But here’s the thing, the ideas are all there, but every time you sit down at your computer to actually write the great Irish novel, you can’t get past page two. It’s a common problem. Luckily there are many things to can do to get over your writer’s hump.
The great thing about reading is that you learn so much, it’s like a ‘how to write’ workshop right there in your hands – how to create characters who are so real they hop off the page, how to structure a plot, how to hold a reader’s attention . . . everything.
It may sound obvious, but you learn to write by actually writing. Write as often as you can. The …
Here’s a quick q and a I just did for the Readathon –
Can you remember the first book you ever read by yourself?
I was a late reader, I didn’t read fluently until I was 9 ½ but as soon as it all started to click I flew through all the Enid Blyton school stories. But the first book I can remember being read aloud to me is A A Milne’s poetry books.
What was your favourite book as a child?
As a child and now, my favourite books are Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, and Are You There, God, It’s Me, Margaret by the wonderful Judy Blume.
Is there any children’s book which has been handed down through the generations in your family?
Yes, lots – Richard Scarry books, The Secret Garden, Ballet Shoes, Fairy Tale collections and my prized possession, a signed Mary Lavin ‘The Second Best Children in the World’, a brilliant picture book.
What is your favourite book of all time?
Is there a reading or book related memory/tip that you would like to share with young readers around the country?
In my job as a children’s bookseller I’ve been …
This might be of interest – I wrote it for the National Guide to 3rd Level Colleges – and I whipped it up pretty quickly! Books to be written, don’t you know! Actually 2 of them!!!
Here you go:
The Life of a Full Time Writer
By Sarah Webb
I have been writing full time for nearly eight years now, both adult novels and children’s books. I have three kinds of days – writing days, event days, and publisher/agent days. Most weeks I have four writing days and one event day. This might be a school visit where I talk to the children and/or give a writing workshop, a library visit or a book festival – often on a Saturday or Sunday. Once every two months or so I also have a publisher/agent day where I travel to London to meet with one of my publishers and/or my agent, or attend a party or launch. That’s is the glam bit!
I did absolutely no creative writing in college (OK maybe I wasn’t supposed to say that in a guide for colleges – oops – but it’s true!), but I did study English and read until my …
Here is the interview from Beauty Couture – and do check out their site – nice!
By: Niamh, August 03
We have a good old natter with super fantastic Irish author Sarah Webb, about her upcoming book, her top advice for budding writers and her secret ballerina ambitions!
Sarah tell us what you are doing with yourself these days?
‘I’m currently working on my 10th novel, The Shoestring Club, set in a clothes shop. It will be published next year, all being well.’
How did you get into writing?
‘I wrote my first books as a single mum, working full time in Waterstone’s. At first it was a financial thing to be honest, trying to make ends meet. I started writing articles for local newspapers, magazines and finally wrote a nonfiction book for children, my very first book. But then I got the fiction bug and I’ve been writing novels ever since and loving it. I now write full time so I’m very lucky.’
What is it you love about writing?
‘Working for myself; creating characters I grow to love as much as real friends; meeting readers and other writers. It really is an amazing job. Solitary and lonely …
There’s nothing like the feeling of joy and contentment that washes over you after a good writing day. A day where everything just clicks into place, where the characters dance off the page, wisecracking among themselves, telling the reader secrets that you, the writer, never knew.
Right at that moment you start to believe in the alchemy of the creative process. It doesn’t happen very often. In fact, sometimes it can be a right old slog to get words onto paper, but you have to battle through those days, hoping that golden days are to come.
Interestingly, the best writing days often sneak up on you unexpectedly. You may be feeling a bit under the weather, a bit glandy, but you make yourself sit down at your desk regardless and just get on with it.
Slowly, so slowly, you start to move your fingers over the keys and after a few sentences it starts to get a little easier. And after a few paragraphs you begin to relax into your writing; and after a few pages you are lost in another world, a world of your own making, and you look up and three hours have gone by in a …
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