Things an aspiring writer learns at a crime festival

I’m at my second crime festival in the space of two weeks – firstly, Noirwich, and now at the other end of the country in Morecambe and Vice. I might have mentioned before that, as a reader, I love these things.  I love the fact we live at a time when writers, those poor souls, are expected to get out and meet and greet their fans.  There’s a lot aspiring writers can take away from these events too. In my experience, the real writers are always more than happy to talk to you about their writing journeys, and are also phenomenally supportive towards us wannabes.  Here’s the two most important things I’ve learned…

It’s hard

For every writer who is up their flogging their debut novel which got snapped up immediately by an agent and editor, there’s another ten who sent their novels to hundreds of agents and then as many publishers before they got anywhere.  And some of these are phenomenal writers who are now what I would consider successful. I’m not quite sure mind whether this is heartening or disheartening – as I’m still at the very start of my potential journey, it is daunting to think that I might have such a long, very long way to go.  But then, as we all know, I’m that winning combination of lazy and impatient!

There’s no one right way

Every single person on every single panel is different. They all have different outputs, different methods of creation, different ways of working and different routes to the success they’ve eventually (or immediately!) found.  This is definitely reassuring because it shows that there’s no one way of doing it that’s any more successful than another. My way, some planning, some winging it, an endpoint in mind and a vague idea of what’s happening is just as viable as if I sat down and carefully and intricated planned every element.  It can be easy to beat ourselves up about our processes and way of working – especially when you listen to talks by people like Rankin who says his characters tell him where they’re going and that he just sits down and write.  But that’s his way.  It’s not necessarily your way.  And it’s certainly not my way.  Not yet anyway.

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