When I went to my first Society of Authors’ reception, I tried to restrain my hopes and imaginings of meeting an agent or publisher who would see my obvious potential and snap me up before anyone else could get their hands on me and my talent.
Naive? Maybe. Optimistic? Rarely. Hopeful and holding onto my dream? Definitely.
I’ve been writing since I was knee-high to a gnat, not just ‘writing’, I mean writing. Every opportunity I would write a poem, story, anything (other than the dreaded duty of ‘thank you’ letter writing) that meant putting pencil to paper.
My first taste of success was when a poem was published in the school magazine when I was 8 years old. Then my greatest childhood coup was when I had a number of poems published in the Nottingham Evening Post newspaper and I was paid a princely sum of £1.00 per poem! I was 11 years old.
Sadly I was put off a journalistic career by my parents: “there’s no money in journalism and think of all those heart breaking events you would have to report”. The latter was particularly poignant as my big sister had just been killed in a car accident. So that decided my fate, in more ways than one.
My working life was spent in the insurance industry and I stopped work to raise my two sons; but during this time I never stopped writing. It was just something I had to do, it was my absolute passion.
I wrote a series of stories to read to my son that he adored, but I took it no further.
Finally with both sons at school, I tried to find a publisher for the stories but failed miserably. However, I was undaunted and took a different tack. Instead of writing fiction, what about fact?
That was the catalyst.
I had my first piece of work published in a national nursing magazine and the feeling of euphoria was incredible. That was just over two years ago.
It took me another year before I had enough ‘paid for’ published articles under my belt to become a member of the Society of Authors. Another huge springboard for me, I felt like I had joined some sort of elite organisation that would help me achieve my ultimate goal of being an author of a children’s book.
Plus a return trip to London is always welcome, my ‘London fix’ is something I look forward to. I arrived half an hour early and sat in their reception reading my latest Penny Vincenzi book.
Then other members started to arrive.
We were ushered into two reception rooms where there was a simple buffet and drinks were served.
Are there many people who are any good at walking into a room of complete strangers and able to strike up a conversation? Well possibly, I’m probably not one of them! But this was my chance, my opportunity, I had to do some networking.
It soon became obvious that the room was full of people who were either at a similar stage to me i.e. looking for publicity or who were one step ahead and had been published quite recently.
I began to feel a little despondent, it was all very jolly but not much use. But I had to persevere.
Then I met Samantha Mackintosh, author of “Kisses for Lula” and she had that kind of ‘I’ve done it’ glow about her. Samantha felt sure my target audience was just what the children’s book market was desperate for, but in my usual cynical way, I wondered if she was just being nice and saying what I wanted to hear.
But then I chatted with the Society’s General Secretary, Mark Le Fanu. He seemed genuinely sympathetic with my plight and supplied me with a contact name.
So after dainty sandwiches and cocktail sized sausage rolls, I make my exit, telling myself that next time, I would be the one glowing with success, reassuring another budding writer to keep going, no matter what. As soon as I returned home, I emailed my new contact and now have another name in the world of publishing.
Here’s to the determination to succeed, the courage of your conviction and the confidence you have to make your dream come true.
It will happen and it’s only me that will make it happen.