by Leigh Russell
It’s easy to lament the sad truth that real talent so often goes unrecognised by decision makers in the industry, but sometimes it’s wonderful to celebrate talent for its own sake. Recently invited to judge a short story competition I was blown away by the standard of writing submitted. There are so many talented writers around most of whom will never reach the dizzy heights of publication. (Believe me, it is a very dizzy experience – you can read about the rollercoaster ride of being published on many author blogs, my own included.)
Yes, it’s great to be published, but the real buzz is writing. Anyone passionate about writing knows that visceral excitement when you write words that perfectly convey your meaning. There’s a magic to it that no publishing deal could ever match. Yes, it’s fantastic to be paid for doing what you love doing, and to have the financial validation of experienced publishers. But writing is the real joy.
And writing is a great leveller; you never know where it might take you. As an established author with two bestsellers to my name, I’ve been invited to run a workshop at Get Writing hosted by the University of Hertfordshire, just eighteen months after my first book was published. A lot can happen in less than two years!
A conference like Get Writing is exciting because we will all be rubbing shoulders together - published authors, aspiring writers, serious students of writing – all writers and all passionate about writing. And this time next year, any one of us might have a bestseller on the shelves.
I’ll be sharing some of my tips about how I write my bestselling books at my workshop, because the lure of making money from writing can’t be ignored. But it’s really a red herring. As a character in Get Shorty says, “I once asked this literary agent what kind of writing paid the best. He said, ‘Ransom notes.’ ”
So my advice to aspiring writers? Don’t let the desire for a lucrative publishing deal override the joy you find in writing. If you do, you might as well be penning ransom notes – (something no one in their right mind would ever do, I hasten to add!)