Monthly Archives: May 2012

MAWYP Launch in Foyles tonight – looking back at ours.

This evening,  ‘Writes of Passage’ the new anthology of work from the MA in Writing for Young people is launching at Foyles in Charing Cross, London.  I expect that despite the rain falling in London, it’s sweltering and full.

Three years ago, our anthology launched, it was called Making Waves and contained work by nine of us, six of whom have either already, or are about to make it into print.

The course we undertook was intensive. Our course tutor, Julia Green herself a well established writer for teens put us through a rigorous series of exercises, teaching us the benefits of reading as writers, taking criticism and giving it kindly.   She taught us to be better writers, she taught us to look properly at what we were doing and what other people were writing, she taught us to support each other.   She was ably helped by Steve Voake, Lucy Christopher and Janine Amos.  John McLay taught us a publishing module and gave us the ins and outs of the trade, the acquisition process, the necessity of having an agent and tonnes of proofs to read.

Soon after the end of the year, Gill Lewis signed a contract with OUP, to publish Sky Hawk, and then White Dolphin.  Our launch came in May the following year.  Following Julia’s advice we worked hard to edit the anthology, so that it was perfect.  Hard to persuade the college that a launch was necessary,  hard to get the cover art right, the invitations right.  Then we had to invite the right people, investigate who had moved where and who had arrived to fill their shoes.  We became an editorial team, a publicity team, a posting team, researchers and hosts.

And then we waited.

The launch buzzed.  We talked and talked and sweated and lost our voices and most of us found agency representation.  One of us, found a publisher.  Not a penny of the college’s money was wasted, not an ounce of energy.  Everybody learned from the experience.

Since that time, from my year alone, published or nearly published:

Gill Lewis.  White Dolphin & Sky Hawk –  OUP
Sam Gayton. The Snow Merchant –   Anderson Press.
Che Golden. The Feral Child –   Quercus
Sarah Hammond. The Night Sky in My Head –   OUP  JULY 2012
Titania Krimpas. Fallen Wings – Meadowside Children’s Books 2013

And little old me – ‘SHRUNK!’ Hot Key Books 2012   and ‘Dear Scarlet’ Nosy Crow 2013

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Waiting and the moment of rejection.

This evening on my Twitter feed, people are chatting about “waiting”.

They’ve sent their manuscripts off to publishers/competitions/agents and are now twitching over their inboxes. I imagine they’ve probably run through all the possible responses – Will the agent/editor love it?  Will they love it but want teensy weensy changes? Will they think it’s ok but needs loads of work? Will they hate it? Or worst, will they be utterly indifferent to it, and just send out a standard rejection slip.

I expect that they’re also experiencing wild mood swings, wondering if the manuscript they’ve laboured over for months is a work of genius or complete pants.

They’ll be aware that a week isn’t long enough, but is eight weeks too long?

They’ll know they should go out, go for another walk, go to a movie, but they can’t help keening over their emails.

I know, I’ve been there.

I can’t help you much with the waiting – just do the things you should have done months ago like evict the moths from the cupboard under the stairs, or write your thank you letters for the Christmas before last, but for the rejections, and they may well happen, I can  suggest making a “rejection box.”

Filling the “rejection box” is actually quite fun. Get a cardboard box and pack it with things you love, but you know you shouldn’t eat , – in my case, Tunnocks Tea Cakes (you know, the yummy mallow things with a crunchy chocolate bottom), Mateus Rose (not as nice as I remember) Pot Noodles (the green ones) , bags of cashew nuts, Turkish delight, sugared almonds, and chocolate, loads of chocolate.  Put plenty of treats in there.  I shared this process with my kids, we put things in there for them too.

We wrote “Rejection Box” on the side in large black letters, so that no-one could steal anything by accident.

Then, any time, any of us experienced rejection, we took something out.  I’m glad to say that I haven’t taken anything out for a year or so, but I hit it hard before that. The children have raided it too.

For me, it was a lifeline. I re-read offending emails while sinking my teeth into Green and Blacks finest; planned my next step, the next story, with the heady whiff of pot noodle floating up to the skylight.   The best thing was that the comforts were there to hand straight away; the moment I turned away from the screen, there was a treat waiting to console me and they made me feel much better, straight away.

Not that anyone’ll get any rejections of course.

Rain and rubbish

It’s raining again, so this time, I went for a walk.  Slightly unprepared as my daughter trashed my walking boots at the weekend, and my wellies have a “Cold comfort Farm” split in them.  I wasn’t disappointed, there was plenty of water, much of it running down me and some more running down the lane.

I went to see the hens, who despite the rain, came to talk to me.  Big Hen in particular.

Big Hen - eyeing me up.

At the bottom of the hill, the Avon looked ferocious, and I took a picture for you:

Here it is.

It’s very worrying for people who live nearby, and the shopkeepers of Bradford on Avon.

But the thing that caught my eye, on this dim dark day, and really bothered me, was the rubbish that people throw out of their cars, or drop casually as they slog up the hill.

It offends me in so many way – Plastic that won’t rot away, corporate plastic that won’t rot away, corporate advertising plastic that won’t rot away.Why?

Perhaps I’m simply out of date, perhaps the modern world has so much plastic in it, that people don’t even notice.

It’s still raining.