Last week Tuesday, I attended a talk by a literary agent and consultant as part of the Creative Writing MA course at Birkbeck University, which I am currently undertaking. It was an informative talk about the marketplace and how to get published hosted by the Creative Writing MA Programme Director (who is also a prolific novelist).
One thing that irked me, however, was the agent / consultant’s view of the marketplace and, while I’m sure that his words accurately reflect his many years of experience in the field, it was very black-and-white the majority of the time while at other times he would admit that every so often a writer comes along and blows all of the rules out of the handbook – in short, it felt like he was contradicting himself. One of those times was his answer to my question:
‘You spoke of a revival in recent times of the short story genre. Is it still the case that an unpublished writer will be turned down if s/he approaches an agent / publisher with a collection of short stories, and encouraged to write a novel, instead.’ (Or something along those lines.)
Birkbeck alumnus Elizabeth Fremantle has been interviewed on the (fabulous) Writer’s Hub website. Here are a few of the gems she had to share:
‘I suppose for me studying for an MA in Creative Writing was a commitment that allowed me to start to think of myself as a writer, or certainly as someone who was striving to be that.’
‘Much of writing is about dull things like discipline, solitude and cogitating on the seemingly insignificant aspects of life, and some people do seem to have a greater propensity for those things. I do not really believe that there is any great mystery to writing; I’m afraid I’m too much of a pragmatist for that and the adage that it’s 3% talent and 97% hard work (or in the case of a recent Tweet I read, 3% talent and 97% not getting distracted by the internet) is true.’
After discovering the collaborative blog Femmeuary and ranting about its brilliance and relevance (see previous post), imagine my absolute delight when I received an email from Alice Ash, founder of Femmeuary, thanking me for my review and asking whether they could publish it on their site! And now imagine even more delight because in the late hours of yesterday evening, my double review of Katie Nevison’s ‘Venus Fly Trap’ and the collaborative blog Femmeuary was published on the Femmeuary website (under the title ‘Femmeuary Reviewed’)!
Check out the link and see what it looks like, here.
Now all I want is to find out if there’s a way to make Femmeuary not simply a February-thing but an all-year-round-thing!
I have just experienced the thrill of reading a good friend’s (very) short story on a fantastic new website called FEMMEUARY! Katie Nevison published a delightfully playful piece called ‘Venus Fly Trap’ on FEMMEUARY! today (well, technically it was yesterday, since it is now past midnight). Written in fresh, poetic language that successfully evokes a luscious (and dangerous) natural landscape, it is a sensuous story with mythic resonance and a cracking last line: ‘But why would Venus bother with a fly?’
Don’t just take my word for it: have a read for yourself, here.
When I started writing this post, I thought FEMMEUARY! was an established website and was disappointed (but also excited) when I discovered via their Facebook page that it is in fact not a website but, I quote, ‘a collaborative blog, for those interested, aggravated or enlightened by feminism. FEMMEUARY! is a group for feminists or anybody interested in feminism. We are looking for people to write articles for our blog which will be published throughout, er, Febuary [sic! Ladies, where is the first ‘r’ in February??] and plugged by Sick Chirpse Magazine’.