In fact, the odyssey seems to be as long as the writing itself! When my work organising, collating and writing for the Allendale Diary was finished, all 366 daily entries neatly compiled and formed into a comprehensive ‘Year in the Life of a Village,’ I decided to return to a dream of writing fiction.
This return was stimulated by the realisation that there were parts of community life that a reportorial approach simply couldn’t reach. I wanted to get to a reality of a vibrant village, to assess how people work together, in a more real way than I could manage by describing organisations.
In fact, the idea of writing a novel had been an earlier ambition than the diary, but my first effort seemed so heavy, lumpen, that I felt abashed. But there was a glimmer of hope in that effort, nevertheless, and I took that little spark along to a Writers’ Retreat laid on by the Arvon Foundation, in the Yorkshire home of Poet Laureate Ted Hughes. There the tutors, both accomplished novelists, encouraged my efforts, showing me how to hone a particular piece with extensive editing, so that it could begin to sing.
Another component of that lesson, in August of 2019, was the recommendation that I find a local writers group and participate, share, in friendly critiques. I was so delighted to try this idea out, and to find a little group of folks who love to write, and who I could trust to deliver fair criticism with warmth and good humour.
Good humour, in fact, seems to be the crucial component of helping this writer’s life move along.
A year into these weekly sessions, with standard school term breaks, and I had the first draft of my novel finished. It’s come a long way since then, now in its sixth incarnation and getting tighter, I hope, with each revision.
But as I say, that was only the beginning of the odyssey. Now comes the marketing, or, pace the perseverers who have the internal fortitude, the endless round of submissions to literary agencies and publishers. It seems, given the exuberance of writing in the time of Amazon/Kindle and Audible.com, that self-publishing is a very realistic alternative if an aspiring writer seeks an audience. And I’m not a great fan of navel-gazing, though I appreciate the catharsis that writing can and does convey to the author.
Since you’re reading this blog, you’ll understand that a salient part of a good marketing strategy is actually getting the work ‘out there,’ and a crucial part of that effort seems to involve developing a readership base. That’s the point of this blog, and indeed, of the free offerings included in this website.