Aye Write!

Posted: March 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: authors, events, prizes | Tags: , , , | No Comments »
Mitchell Library Glasgow

Mitchell Library Glasgow

I’m off to Scotland tomorrow to Aye Write! Glasgow’s Book Festival. I will be reading in The Burns Room at the Mitchell Library – and this will be followed by the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize announcement at 6pm.

The event is free and from the website looks as if it’s open to all – but if you don’t fancy that then the most talented AL Kennedy is giving a talk at 7pm in the same building.

I’m nervous. The building looks rather large. I wonder, if you spend a lot of time in buildings that are grand and imposing do you begin to think of yourself as grand too? Maybe this is explains why people who live in cities often think they are more sophisticated than the rest of us – they can’t help themselves, it’s simply their environment. Whatever, I don’t spend much time in grand buildings. I prefer a small room, with a desk, and a stack of books, several pens, some paper and a computer – oh and I’d like a view one day – onto a garden or the sea. Yes, I am nervous. Wish me luck.


MA in Writing Students – Warwick

Posted: May 15th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: events, writing | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

On Thursday I went to Warwick University (my old joint) to give  a talk to the MA students about editing, and the whole process a novel goes through from draft#1 to publication. Every week the students on the MA programme organise a LitBiz lunch. People in the industry come along to shed light on the mysterious world of writers, agents, editors and publishers. I wish I’d had access to this kind of information when I was hoiking my first manuscript around. It seems basic now but then it felt like prospecting for gold.

Luke Brown, my editor at Tindal Street, had just come up from the London launch of Anthony Cartwright’s new novel – Heartland.  The launch had gone well and so he was a little worse for wear. I found him in the uni cafe poring over a manuscript and slinging back coffee. After lunch and a brisk walk we arrived at the appointed place. The students were great.

Afterwards we all went to the bar and the studes gave us the gen on the course. Their star tutor is AL Kennedy – and they all raved about her and told us about her marking system. I was intrigued. Apparently each student gets a 32 point list of all the common mistakes creative writing students make. When she returns your marked work there are no comments in the margin but the ms is covered in numbers 1-32 which you have to look up on the list. Kennedy knows this off pat – it’s her system after all – and the students love it and praise her for being incredibly thorough and encouraging. No one they know of has ever had a piece of work returned without any numbers on. I did ask.

The students finish the course in September and the couple I spoke to were worried about ‘going it alone’ after a year of support. I started thinking about a writers’ mentor programme, where published writers who live near universities could offer a few hours a term/year to advise recent graduates – cast an eye over agent letters for example, check synopses, just meet for coffee and answer questions. Just a thought.