Things have been a bit busy lately, what with running events, performing at events and promoting events, so not only has writing my novel fallen by the wayside, but updating this blog has also been parked on the proverbial grass verge. Sorry about that. Now, I know it's been a while since the Northern Lights Writers' Conference, but I can't let this great image of Will Self slip off unseen, especially as it gives me the perfect excuse to let you all know that he took a chug of my ciggie during the lunch break and was cantankerous, as has widely been reported (well, on the Manchester Literature Festival blog Chapter & Verse, at least), but, actually, I thought, quite helpful. Unless you are a genre writer or a student of journalism, in which case you probably went home and rethought your entire career strategy over a stiff drink or five. His advice that as a writer, you should write anything, pretty much, was sound - features and so forth; the more you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, the better you become at the actual craft, at meeting deadlines and at keeping to wordcounts.
Elsewhere at the NLWC - organised by Creative Industries Trafford as part of MLF and held at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale - canal poet laureate Jo Bell left at least one audience member dismayed by divulging that she spends about a third of her work time promoting herself (and others) through social media channels and whatnot. Well, no one is going to do it for you, are they? Unless you have a wad of cash you want to bung at a publicist or are really bloody famous and signed to a publisher with a fabulously enormous press office… Publicity cropped up in one of the afternoon workshops, run by Louise Rhind-Tutt, who kindly sent me a copy of the handout she shared with her group; another was on funding, led by David Gaffney, with both his writerly hat on and his Arts Council one. The third workshop was with Juliet Pickering, an agent with Blake Friedmann in that London, who explained the importance of covering letters and synopses, then patiently re-explained the importance of covering letter and synopses in the Q&A rounding up the session. Other speakers at the day-long event were prize-winning author Joanna Kavenna, with some useful writing tips, and children's literature agent Louise Lamont, backing up a lot of what Juliet had covered - hopefully people were listening this time round.
If you like the sound of this event, there's a similar one coming up in Chorley. Write Now - organised by Chorley & District Writers’ Circle - is all about getting published and has four speakers lined up: including author Carys Bray, a couple of publishers and a literary agent. It takes place Saturday 15 November, 1pm - 4.45pm. Tickets are £10 and are available via an Eventbrite link from the site www.chorleywriters.org.uk. Get on it!