Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Making of a Writer


(Molls demonstrating that the road to becoming a writer is a long one. This was taken at Bedruthan Steps last week.)

I've been asked to give a talk at the forthcoming Penzance Literary Festival. At first, the idea filled me with a mixture of excitement followed swiftly by extreme terror. Luckily I've managed to persuade another freelance journalists to do it with me, which is much less scary, so the title of our talk is to be Becoming a Freelance Writer.

So far so good. I sat down yesterday and looked at the muddle of notes and tried to make sense of them. I started thinking about what made me a writer, going back to when I was a child. I thought of all those years and years of diaries I wrote as a teenager, and up until my forties. (Page after page of mostly incredibly boring monologues.)

I remembered the boss that had tried to get me into the newsroom as a journalist over 20 years ago (they employed too many cheap Antipodeans so why train me?).

I realised it wasn't until I left London – and thereby stopped trying to have a Proper Job – that I started writing properly. It was as if all those words bubbled up to the surface and had time to breathe. From then on there was no stopping them.

Except for when I met Himself. I think that was such an overwhelming experience that there wasn't room for anything else. My whole life turned upside down, inside out and back to front. I didn't write – couldn't – for about two years. Then when I decided to pack in a very stressful job, up bubbled those words again.

Ten years on I am proud to call myself a freelance journalist. The book(s) aren't published – yet – but I'm still working on them. They are another goal, but no less important.

Watching Wimbledon last week, it struck me that writing is like playing professional tennis (though not nearly as well paid). It's very competitive, you have to love doing it, develop a thick skin yet be sensitive enough to do it well. You have to understand people, build up good relationships with them and remember that it never hurts to help others. You have to have your ears and eyes open, keep your wits about you and go for it. Continue to try and improve, and never, ever give up.

The other night we watched the DVD of the Sound of Music. This is a digitised version of the film with Julie Andrews giving a little talk before hand. She considered several reasons why the film is still so phenomenally successful. The two that I remember were faith and perseverance. And you need both of those to succeed as a writer.

18 comments:

Chris Stovell said...

So true, Sue! I've been nodding away with you here. Also - another of the moments of synchronicity - I have some public speaking ahead of me too!).

Akelamalu said...

Hope the public speaking goes well. :)

Flowerpot said...

Once again, I don't believe it, Chris! Synchronicity or what?!

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Brilliant post. I wouldn't have the confidence to do a public talk but I really admire you and hope it goes really well.

The making of a writer; I'm trying!

CJ xx

Flowerpot said...

CJ - well, I might make a complete hash of it but will have a go! Good luck with everything your end, CJ.Take care xx

Flowerpot said...

Ak - thanks. I fluctuate between being very keen and utterly terrified. But it's not till August... plenty of time to work up some real nerves!

Talli Roland said...

Very true, Sue - so important to remember this! Thank you for the reminder.

And good luck with your public speaking! I'm sure you'll be great.

Colette McCormick said...

It should be a great talk. Good luck.

李志吉 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Flowerpot said...

Talli - as I am going through a rough phase at the moment I need to remember my own advice!

Flowerpot said...

Colette - thanks I'll need it!

Philipa said...

I wish I could go to your talk, FP. I always wanted to become a writer but could never write a diary, I was either bored with my life or too busy living it! I used to write poetry and looking back it's typical of a young girl and so embarassing - dreaming of ones first kiss and all that. Hope your book is published soon, FP I'm very keen to read it.

雲亨雲亨雲亨 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Flowerpot said...

Phil - I hope you have the time to do your own writing soon. And thanks so much for those kind words - you've made my day!

Amanda said...

You need both of those for sure, Sue. Hope the public speaking went/goes well. X

Flowerpot said...

Mandy - thanks, though it's not for another month. I posted about it as I'm writing up what I'm going to say!

云依恩HFH謝鄭JTR安 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
溫緯李娟王季 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.