Hey guys! I’ve got something a little different for you today.
The lovely Claire Savage, author of Magical Masquerade, a brand new Children’s book, has written an amazing piece for us on how author solidarity can make all the difference to you becoming a more confident writer!
So for any of you wanting to write, this is a great read for you. Get in touch with other authors, and, I guess, just talk about writing – you’re all in the same boat, and having someone to talk to with your writer worries is always going to be useful.
“Why Writers Need Writers”
By Claire Savage
Huge thanks to Joanne for inviting me to write a guest post on her blog as I start the promo for my debut children’s novel, Magical Masquerade. I self-published via CreateSpace at the end of April, after finally deciding to just go for it and, while I thought I was going to blog about that journey and SP, I realised I wanted to focus on something else instead – other writers.
You can read about my SP journey over on my own blog if you like, but what I haven’t really talked about enough, I think, is how important other writers have been to me throughout this. I’ve gone to various writing workshops and short courses over the years, which I’ve really enjoyed, but I’ve never been a dedicated member of a writing group which meets every week to share and critique their work. I prefer to write by myself at home, meeting up with fellow scribblers only at festivals, one-off events and over coffee.
However, in the past couple of years I’ve enjoyed a whole new connection with writers in Northern Ireland – where I live – and in particular, with women writers. And, while I’m still not part of a writing group which meets religiously every week, I am part of a country-wide writing community which talks every day online. It’s called Women Aloud NI.
Set up by Jane Talbot, who hails from Wiltshire but now lives on the North Coast near myself, Women Aloud NI aims to increase the profile of women’s writing in Northern Ireland. As part of that, there’s a website, a Facebook page, a Facebook group, a Twitter account and so on. On International Women’s Day (March 8), Jane organises read-a-thons, mass readings and the like across the country, and this year, also took us to Dublin to the Irish Writers Centre. There, we collaborated with women writers from the ROI, reading our work and celebrating each other’s achievements in an event called WomenXBorders.
I should mention that Women Aloud NI has just won three prizes at the 2017 Saboteur Awards in London – one of our members, Freya Clements, won Best Reviewer, while Women Aloud NI itself scooped the Wildcard category and Best Collaborative Work for the WomenXBorders initiative.
To be part of Women Aloud NI you have only to be a woman writer living in/from Northern Ireland. And, since it came into being in 2015, I’ve realised just how much support from other writers counts when you’re trying to carve out some sort of writing career.
Whether you write for yourself as a hobby or want to publish, it’s important to have someone in your corner encouraging you, advising you and just being there to talk to. Other writers, I find, are the people who really ‘get’ why you want/need to write, and are best placed for advising on any number of book-related matters. Everyone has different experiences and in a writing community, there’s always someone who can help.
In the past two years, I’ve benefited from being able to read my work in public at various events thanks to Women Aloud NI. Waterstones Coleraine, the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin and No Alibis Bookstore in Belfast are just three of multiple venues which have hosted our readings to date. I also enjoyed taking part in my first writers’ panel discussion this year, chatting about SP at the WomenXBorders event.
I’ve received support and incredibly useful advice from Jane about the publishing process and what happens afterwards – indeed, it was she who suggested I pitch to the Belfast Book Festival to launch my book there this year. I did, they said yes, and I’m now having my book launch on June 17. If it hadn’t been for Jane suggesting it though, I’d never have approached them, as I didn’t think they would consider me!
With both traditionally and self-published authors – and also, those who don’t publish their work – in the Women Aloud NI community, you learn all sorts of things from all sorts of people. There’s the business of writing (i.e. finance/marketing), general writing tips and advice; information about upcoming events/competitions journals seeking submissions. There’s also meet-ups, coffee and cake on occasion, and just by being part of Women Aloud NI, you feel more supported and confident as a writer. Together, we shout louder, and people take notice.
It’s still early days for Women Aloud NI but the longer it goes on, the more value I see in being part of such a community. When I decided to self-publish my novel, there was already a group of people there willing to support and encourage me in that. They were all in the one place online and have been great in helping me spread the word about the book.
I think that writers need writers in many ways (with published work they also need readers, of course, but that’s a whole other blog post!), and building up a strong local network is invaluable. I now know so many more writers than I did previously in Northern Ireland and it certainly makes all the difference to me as an author…
Claire blogs at: https://clairesavagewriting.wordpress.com/
Magical Masquerade is now available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magical-Masquerade-secrets-spells-enchantments/dp/1542398428
Women Aloud NI website: http://womenaloudni.com/
I know that this group is specific to Northern Ireland, but I’m sure there are similar organisations around the world – or why not set up your own?
Sometimes it can just be as simple as dropping a tweet to your friend who also writes, or you can take a leap and email your favourite author. Lots of YA authors in particular are on twitter, and I’m sure would be happy to answer any little niggling questions and give tips and tricks.
I also just want to say that Claire’s book sounds AWESOME. I can’t wait to read it – who doesn’t love a book full of magic?!
And how awesome is that cover?! It reminds me of little magic wizardy gnomes in the forest.
Mini Gandalf perhaps?
Regardless, it looks freaking great.