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Reality check

Oh, Winchester, how I missed you last weekend. It was the first time I hadn’t gone Winchester Writers’ Festival in three years and, by all accounts, this year’s festival was one of the best.

But I couldn’t attend. You see, I’ve been rather busy…

Never Go There has just been edited/rewritten for the thirteenth time. Or is it the fourteenth? I’ve honestly lost count. It was a big edit, not so much in terms of the amount requiring a rewrite, but more in terms of significance. It was the first time I had rewritten the novel under the guidance of my editor, Emily. The first time I had rewritten the novel since signing my book deal.

Oh, how good that feels to write!

Returning to my blog after such an edit has given me cause for reflection. This time last year I was returning from the Winchester Writer’s Festival feeling jubilant, optimistic, determined. It still feels like a fantasy that one year later all the dreams I had kept in my pocket are coming true. A book deal with a top publisher, working with an amazing editor on a book I am so damn proud of.

How did I get here? How did it happen? Well, a lot of it is down to the people I met at Winchester and the knowledge and experience I gained there.

I didn’t sign with my agent or publisher at Winchester, but it was the critical time after the festival that lead me to success. Here are my top three recommendations for what to do next.

  • Be objective regarding the critique you received on your manuscript and rewrite it accordingly. The agents, publishers and writers at the festival know their stuff and, whilst you may not necessarily agree with their opinions or like their suggestions, you should definitely consider them seriously. (I ended up deleting one character and one subplot entirely at this stage, and though painful to do, it made the work clearer and stronger.)
  • Say thank you. A brief, polite email to the agents and publishers you saw at the festival thanking them for their time, consideration and advice. This is not only good practice for a being, well, a decent human being, it may also help those agents remember you in a positive light when you come to resubmitting your work.
  • Connect with other festival attendees and get chatting. Writing full time can be isolating, and one of the joys of the festival is the connections that can be made with fellow writers, the opportunity to build a support network of people who get it. At the times when rejections are flooding in and your confidence is shaky, it’s these guys who will most likely pull you through.

And whilst all the hopeful attendees are preparing to resubmit, fighting for that elusive book deal, I am going to be living the reality; the adrenaline rush of working to a deadline, the gut-wrenching nerves of reading editorial notes, the rewrites and more rewrites. It’s an incredible feeling, one I hope many other Winchester alumni will experience. And it’s worth every second of that tumultuous journey.

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