I wasn't disappointed. Well, not really. Obviously it's disappointing not to be told that your current manuscript is an amazing bestseller-in-waiting. There were a few glum faces after the 1:1 manuscript sessions…
So what did I take away from the day?
- Getting published is really, really, really hard, but possible - and the children's publishing industry is on the up. If your first chapter doesn't wow the agent/editor, then forget it. Of course I knew that, but it doesn't hurt to have it reinforced
- If you really want to make it happen, be determined. I was inspired by Helen Peters, author of The Secret Hen House Theatre, who told us her first book took 10 years to write: it spent a few of those years hidden under her bed
- Experiment. Try out different styles, use writing exercises to have a go. Enjoy the process, write every day and be serious about it. Philip Ardagh was a brilliant speaker on this topic: effortlessly turning mundane sentences (admittedly many of them contained a poo theme for which I blame his audience) into humour.
- I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to other authors, sharing experiences and experiencing Kate Wilson's enthusiasm and passion for her industry. It's a community I feel at home in
- Take the time to write the book that you really want to read. I'm not sure they said that, but I came away thinking it. It's time to start thinking about my next one: The Story that just won't leave me alone. And if that takes me a few years, so what?
So thanks Nosy Crow, you've made me more determined than ever. The masterclass came in a week when I was interviewed about Mr. Nobody for a feature in The Times on children and Alzheimer's, that wasn't published. It felt like a roller coaster week that, at some point, I came spinning out of. I think I'm back on firm ground again now. It feels good.