I love my life. Did I tell you that?
As usual it’s been busy with manuscripts lining themselves up neatly; and every time I work on a new one I think about how many full-length novels I’ve now critiqued in the past five plus years and how far I’ve come since the first person asked for a complete assessment of their work. I remember when I set up my business and by then I was confident I could do it and had studied and learned how but it was still nerve-wracking the first time I was paid for it. I think I did many for free initially to ensure I did really know how and that what I was offering would make a difference. I am like that.
Because critique services are not validated and in essence anyone could do it, I am very much aware that what is offered has to be excellent. Not everyone who writes can critique and I drew from working both in publishing, being a writer with several things accepted for publication myself (and later competition wins, the novel deal, the agent) and using my MA and copy editing courses etc. I had to be sure. It’s not just a case of reviewing work, you have to understand how narrative works and how story works to analyse it and give constructive advice.
I think the repeat business and clients doing well in competitions (I think there have been 2 or 3 wins) and going on to get publishing deals or agents was the biggest validation. I still kick myself that I get to do what I love every day; first write and then assess writing. You have to know it to teach it. And it keeps me grounded. It’s an honour to be trusted to get up close to writer’s work. I still sometimes can’t believe how the work keeps rolling in.
When I started to work for Cornerstones (who send me a few manuscripts now in amongst those from private clients) I had to be assessed. This was the first time a professional organisation looked at my work. I sent examples of critique but also had to have a test critique with them. It has to be based on a recommendation so a friend did that and it has to be to a high standard. Luckily it was a good fit and after my assessment I was shown the original report and it was so interesting to see the same ideas and the same issues identified. It’s the closest you can get to a validation in what could be subjective.
I was very proud to think I had developed the business well enough and my skills well enough, it got me on their list of editors.
But learning is continuous so I love it when I have to really think and sometimes rethink ideas when certain manuscripts are presented; especially ones that break the rules. It certainly keeps me on my toes.
So after five and half years I am still here and I have no plans to ever be anything else but a writer. And be my own boss.
I am proof that if you really want something, anything is achievable — but you have to work at it.
These days there are not many things that faze me. The first time you do anything you are a little anxious if you want to do a good job, so when I was offered new types of projects but it’s rare these days I have anything I have not done before and nothing has proved beyond me.
It’s interesting how many recurring themes I see. We all think we’re original of course when often we’re not. But by developing our own interesting and unique voices and owning the plot, making it something to be proud of, we will bring someone new.
I do feel I have neglected CafeLit of late but I promise that will be up and running.We had some website changes and so there were some issues with that, but I hope to get something on there later. And Bridge House is now closed for submissions although I am not sure I shouted as loudly as I ought about sending in your work. However, we’ve had plenty of stories so I now need to find time to look at some of those too and work towards the next collection!
It’s a busy life but I wouldn’t change it.
And now some chutney making to do. In a literary sense you understand.
Have a great Easter everyone. I will be back and blogging on Tuesday as I am trying to have some time off, if I can!