Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Emerging Writer's Festival, part six.

Hi all,

Day two of my weekend at Melbourne’s Emerging Writer’s Festival began with a session called Crashing, Smashing and Bashing Through. It was the first panel to have a real-life science fiction writer on it, so there is at least one emerging science-fiction writer getting published who has opinions on writing. His name was Chris Morphew. He told us that he had 376 rejections before he met a publishing assistant at church (and here I was thinking that everyone who worked in publishing worshipped satan). This publishing assistant mentioned a series of young adult books that they wanted ghostwriters for. Chris applied. They liked his work and after her repeatedly pitched his own science fiction series The Phoenix Files to them, they agreed to publish it. He said don’t be afraid to have ridiculous ambitions.

Freelance writer and journalist Sarah Ayoub said it was important to call yourself a writer. I have had problems with calling myself a writer, but after writing/editing a novel on every day for the past year and a half, I figure I am entitled too. I think it was in the first session I attended at the festival that the moderator asked for a show of hands from the writers in the audience and collectively we slowly put our hands up, showing our insecurity about calling ourselves writers.

Sarah said it was important to showcase your work, such as on a website. She recommended finding someone whose career you admire to ask to become your mentor. Would many Australian science-fiction authors have the time or inclination to mentor? I know one who does. Finally Sarah said it was important to network, both face to face and on social network sites. Twitter was good for plugging her blog. I have since joined twitter and use it to plug my blog.

Novelist Kathryn Heyman had an original pitching idea. She suggested you say in your pitch covering letter that you met the agent/editor at a writer’s festival, even if you didn’t. Just make sure they actually went to that writer’s festival. She said only approach agents after you have written the good book. This was mentioned a few times throughout the festival, especially by writing teachers who were amused by their students asking questions about getting published before they had written anything.

She felt that knowing what your main character wants is essential to the writing of a good book. Well the central character in the novel I am writing has a number of desires, most of all to survive the situation he finds himself in. To survive, he needs to find out what is going on in the mind of the person who caused his predicament.

My next post on the Emerging Writers Festival will be a combined post on two of sessions one of which was a debate on Art versus Craft.


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