The website of the historical fiction writer.

Festival of Writing 2014 Part One: Openings

Once again, these posts have been written after the weekend so I think what’s here is right… I’m also watching ‘The Trip’ at the same time so this may take time. It’s very good so far.

Did you enjoy last week’s posts? I hope so because here’s another load! This weekend I went to York for my second Festival of Writing! There are some posts here from last year’s event somewhere so do have a look at those.

The morning after the night before (Saturday Morning after Friday Night Live, where we were treated to some great extracts from some great writers) we had the Opening Address from Antonia Hodgson.

I met Antonia last weekend at the Historical Novel Society Conference last weekend (Go Georgians!) and we were given some good advice to start off the Festival.

1) Give yourself space to dream. Daydreaming is a big part of creating anything, from coming up with the idea to how to go about it and dealing with any problems you might have. Walking to work is good for that as is going away on holiday. Trust your subconscious and let it exercise. Twitter can be thought of as junk food for the imagination (don’t have any before bedtime.)

2) READ! Some find this tricky when they are writing but it is essential. It helps you find your own style learning from others.

3) Practice. Very few first novels get published but think of them as an apprenticeship or learning an instrument.

4) Be disciplined and resilient and don’t give up. Rejection is a fact of life and finding the time can be difficult with other commitments. It is vital that you enjoy it, though, and don’t view writing as a chore. It is also important not to give up the day job. Even successful writers have to supplement their income with teaching, editing, etc.

Antonia told us of David Gregory Roberts, the writer of Shantaram, who had his first two drafts destroyed in prison but wrote it when he got out. He forgave the guard who destroyed the drafts and inspired him to become a teacher instead. This was a great start to the Festival and I bought a copy of Antonia’s book The Devil in the Marshalsea.

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