2020 was the year when writing came back into my life.
Fifteen years ago, I arrived at university fresh-faced and eager to learn following a childhood of writing stories on my mum’s geriatric word processor. I completed an undergraduate degree in English Literature with Creative Writing, followed by an MA in Children’s Literature. Both courses had plenty of enjoyable elements and on my MA especially, I was privileged to be taught by some fabulous children’s writers. However, the writing workshops left me full of self-doubt. My writing didn’t fit into the oft preferred genres of poetry and short stories and ultimately, I decided writing wasn’t for me.
Fast forward ten plus years and a career in teaching and writing was an itch that still needed scratching. I’d started drafting a Young Adult novel in my spare time and it was then that I discovered WriteMentor online. Taking a massive leap of faith, I signed up for the Crawley WriteMentor weekend led by the ever-generous @Aishabushby. The experience is one I’ll never forget. I was suddenly amongst people – including a published writer and a literary agent – who took my writing seriously and thought it could be published. The impact was immense.
From there, I caught the WriteMentor bug! I attended Lindsay’s (@LindsayGalvin) weekend in Brighton where my current Middle Grade WiP was born in a writing exercise, and then a third weekend in Croydon. I quickly signed up for the SparkMentoring scheme where Lindsay reads and feeds back on 5000 words of my writing each month, then the online April weekend where I ended up meeting my agent, the fabulous @LaurieEmWrites. I was a convert to the WM way!
With Lauren’s belief, editorial experience and vision, and the keen editorial eye of Lindsay and other wonderful writer/editors like @BrittonBookGeek and @FinlaysonPalmer, my writing has been on a journey. There has of course been practical changes like a sharper insight into pacing and a firmer knowledge of how much descriptive detail to give, but the biggest change I can identify in my writing is in terms of how seriously I now take it.
WriteMentor is a fantastic community. I’ve met so many fellow writers who relentlessly champion one another’s writing and who have encouraged me to view myself as a writer. Whilst I’ve a long way to go, their input has helped me really commit to making my dreams of being published a reality. WriteMentor is led by the absolutely awe-inspiring @StuartWhiteWM and I encourage every #kidlit writer to check them out, and to draw on affordable editing and mentoring services like those offered by @BrittonBookGeek and the @WordWitches whenever you can. There’s something about pouring your hard-earned money into your writing that helps you start taking it seriously.
Most of all, write. Write for you. Write what you enjoy. Just write.