What do I do while I wait to hear whether a publisher likes my material? Of course, I continue writing, but the other constant is – I learn my craft. OK, so I’ve been slowly ‘learning my craft’ for a awhile now, but what does it mean?
About 7 or 8 years ago, I tried to get a story published that went no where. Much as I liked it, much as my family and friends like it, it languished in slush piles everywhere. Actually, it probably didn’t languish. It was probably filed pretty pronto into the round bin (and much as I liked that novel, I haven’t looked at it for years because I’m pretty sure knowing what I know now that I would cringe). And all I kept hearing was, ‘you have to learn your craft’. The trouble being that I was such a neophyte at the time, I didn’t know even what they meant. Instead, I decided not to try and get published. I decided that while something inside me kept me writing, that my writing was just for me.
Fast forward a couple years and after a series of events too long to go into in this space, I reversed and decided to try getting published again. But this time, more importantly, I realised that there was help out there. So I signed up for a ‘Novel Writing’ class where we workshopped our own novels. What a revelation it was! Not only did my writing need help, but my plotting, characterisation, chapter shaping, narrative voice – you name it!
That class started me off. but we just skimmed the surface. Because the class was designed for workshopping, we didn’t learn much about the other things. I went on to join Leicester Writers’ Club to continue that kind of workshopping. Not only is it helpful for my own writing, but exposure to the insightful comments about others’ writing every week is amazingly helpful in its own right. And what about all the rest? Since then I’ve taken masterclasses in all the above subject areas and more. And has it helped? The fact that I now have an agent gives me some validation that I have gotten better at my craft.
But despite being light-years from where I used to be, the thing I’ve learned above all else is – there’s still so much more to learn!