Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Next Generation of Freelance Writers

I was invited in to Kingston University the other day by Todd Swift - the Canadian poet - to talk to fifty or so students on the creative writing course. Kingston has a good buzz about it, (I had been there just a few weeks before talking to Alison Baverstock's Publishing MA students).

Todd very kindly cajoles all his students to buy my "Freelance Writer's Handbook" and also encouraged them to line up to have their books signed at the end of the session. Talking to some of them individually got me thinking.

It's been forty years since I was setting out like them, arriving in London straight from school, hoping for pavements of gold and all the rest. Then the freelance writer's world was one of manual typewriters and self-addressed envelopes where now it is all emails and attachments, but in essence it is still a gigantic leap of faith into a life where every morning you wake up not knowing if this is going to be the day your big break finally arrives. No doubt they were hoping that I was going to give them some clue as to what the next forty years of their lives are going to be like, but how different will it be by the time these guys are the ones blathering on to another generation of hopefuls?

The only thing I can promise to those who stick it out is that they are in for some grand adventures.


Anonymous said...

I've turned from fiction writing to ghostwriting after trying to get a debut lit-fiction novel published in the recession (about as easy as finding Wally after four tequila slammers), but already I've entered worlds and discovered things I would never have otherwise experienced. Getting over the five year hurdle seems to be the tricky bit - you're unknown and untested for so long, but all the while building up your portfolio, until finally someone takes a chance. Being an information junkie seems to help - if I wasn't fascinated by the world, its people and their stories I don't think I'd want to do this for five more minutes.

Anonymous said...

It has been an adventure already. You never know what client is just around the corner or exactly how a book will turn out.

I echo Mark - I think a general fascination with the world helps prepare a ghostwriter to tackle completely different books, one right after the other.

I am sincerely looking forward to the rest of my career.