Last week I went to a 'workshop' at Pembroke College run by the National Academy of Writing. I've been to one before but I thought I'd go again.
Richard Beard is the main speaker who performs a public edit on two submissions of written work - he's brilliant. The extracts themselves were pretty amazing to begin with yet he managed to still find ways to improve them. Quite something.
I spoke to plenty of writers - there were a lot more there than last time and now I've built up a network of friends/acquaintances to discuss with... Maybe my Cambridge career is finally setting off.
The Academy includes many Patrons who are writers themselves, including the likes of Jacqueline Wilson, A. S. Byatt, Nick Hornby, Melvyn Bragg, Malorie Blackman and Kazuo Ishiguro. Therefore one is always in safe hands.
The speaker this time was the travel writer Ian Marchant. Visit his blog and it'll tell you a bit about his visit to Cambridge. He was extremely interesting, though not totally relevant to a fiction writer but his methods, of course, are universal. The amount of research that he conducts and the plucking out of thin air of ideas is immense. So are his daring deeds and cunning ways of making money and the determination to keep on writing even in the face of poverty and starvation... You think I'm joking, this man lived it... Kind of.
It was extremely interesting and this post is basically a plea for anyone who would like to write (in the UK at least) to check out their website and maybe look for help/guidance. No one's ever going to be a perfect writer, and there's never a perfect way to write or method, and even Richard Beard himself, (in all his beautiful ruggedness), admits that his 'edits' are only 'in my opinion'.
It's clear that it can't harm to show your work to a reading audience. People have to read it... That's what it's for. You can't keep it under wraps forever... Well you can. But you shouldn't.
I'm thinking I might start posting some 'snippets' from some of my work and you can tell me what you think... Be as brutal as you want... well, don't be, remember I have feelings.
But I say once more... LOOK THEM UP. It'll be useful.