Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’ve had lots of wonderful experiences linked to Vanessa – including finding my agent (Sallyanne Sweeney), the place I now call home and as a result, my husband! – so I was pretty certain that it would be a quality affair.
Although it’s not usually easy, I was willing to write off a day of writing to immerse myself in advice from talented authors and industry professionals. The list was impressive, with the likes of Michael Emberley, Marie Louise Fitzpatrick, Norton Vergien, Oisin McGann and Meg Rosoff on hand to share their knowledge of the industry and writing tips, answer questions and set short writing tasks.
Even though some parts of the workshop weren’t relevant to me – I already have an agent, for instance – I dipped in and out, garnering bits of knowledge that made me stop, think and at times, rethink my own approach. I also found myself enjoying snippets of advice that I could relate to, stuff that left me nodding and smile knowingly.
The set up was impressive and multi-faceted, featuring the host Vanessa, an in-house audience and an interactive online global audience with a two-way communication stream via twitter, facebook and email. Despite the fact that the workshop was online, it maintained an inclusive and personal feel and I feel the positive feedback they’re receiving is well deserved.
Covering everything from animation to publishing, illustration to collaboration, finding an agent to finding your voice, this was something I had never experienced before and didn’t really believe could actually be done – at least, not to this standard.
I don’t want to spoil it for you – those of you who missed it and are serious about your writing career can buy it online & watch it for yourself – but here are a few of my favourite bits I’d like to share, to give you a taster…
- “The sign of good writing is to take a feeling and put it down on paper convincingly – being able to create suspense is important and make sure it’s not boring for the child.” Michael Emberley
- “Write, rework, return to your work – time lapse enables mistakes to jump out at you. It took me 14 years to write one of my books and get it right – it was turned down by same publisher 3 times, and taken on the fourth occasion. Not rushing is vitally important.” Marie Louise Fitzpatrick
- A good agent will understand the market, will know gaps in a publisher’s list and have good contacts within the publishing industry. They’ll also help you work on your book, matching your script to the right editor. If you’re lucky enough to get an agent, it’s important you feel the agent understands your book – they have your vision.” Polly Nolan
- “You don’t need a lot of description but you do need the right words – but trust in your reader and leave some things to their imagination. What you leave out as important as what you leave in.” Meg Rosoff
This is just a taste of what was on offer, but if you can imagine an entire day – from 10am till 4pm – of such gems, with the chance to interact via twitter, facebook and email and have your questions answered by industry professionals, then you’ll understand why I’m highly recommending the next few workshops.
- Getting to the Heart of it: Writing Women’s Fiction Tuesday, October 15th
- Crime Pays: Writing Crime Fiction Wednesday, October 30th
- Getting Published Saturday, November 9th
I’d love to know who else tuned in to the first workshop and what you thought of it. And who’s tuning in next time? Even if you don’t write in those genres, you may pick up something useful as the information is always transferable and as writers, we can always improve.