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Monday, 10 February 2014

Nosy Crow

As many of us do, I sat down on January 1st 2014 to write my New Year's resolutions. This year I decided on a few things.

A) Give up giving up on stuff.
B) Under no circumstances try to join a gym. (Again.)
C) Just get on and do the things that make you happy.

Then of course, I had to work out what it was that made me happy and so came up with this list.

A) Writing.
B) Cheese.
C) Chocolate.
D) Cheese again.
E) Having lots of fun.
F) Lunging.
G) Making other people happy.
H) Singing.
I) Cheese.

Sadly, I had to accept that I can't actually 'do' cheese for a living. Or chocolate. Although goodness knows I'd like to try! Unfortunately this is in no way realistic, mostly because dairy products set my asthma off...and asthma attacks are neither becoming or pleasant for anybody.

This leaves writing, singing, making other people happy and lunging. 

Singing: I do this all the time, to myself (fabulous audience) and am in a band.

Making other people happy: This is just a nice thing to do, be kind - it isn't hard. Being a primary school teacher means doing this a lot. Being part of a family means doing your best to do this a lot. But I like making people smile, it's a good feeling.

Lunging: Favoured dance move and power stance. My solution to avoiding breakdown during Ofsted - sneak in a lunge during a lesson. At the end of the day, tally up how many members of staff managed the 'secret lunge'. It is empowering I tell you.

Writing: Ah, writing. Writing makes me the happiest. I wake up in the morning thinking about writing, I go to sleep thinking about it. When i'm not thinking about doing it, I'm doing it. There are many characters having merry dance in my head waiting to burst out onto a page... it's just making the time to believe in yourself and to actually do it that's hard. I did know however that it was now or never and I had to make it happen.

Immediately after I'd made these resolutions I got an email through entitled: Guardian Masterclass - Children's Writing and Publishing Course with Nosy Crow.

I couldn't help but feeling this was the way forward, immediately I signed up and got my place on the course - I was excited and not really sure what to expect. Finally, the weekend arrived and before I knew it my brand new satchel was packed with snacks, a pencil case and a notebook. I was 5! Hooray.

  • Arrive at the amazing Kings Place - feeling very cosmopolitan.
  • Meet a lovely man called David, Saturday 9th is also 'National Dave Day'. (It was only ever going to be a good day then, surely.) 
  • Enter the meeting room with a table headed by Lucy Coats and Mary Hoffman. Fabulous, experienced, generous ladies. I have read several of their books and am currently teaching using the Grace series written by Mary, who was kind and extremely approachable when talking to her about it. 
  • Lucy and Mary were later joined by Michelle Lovric. Between the three ladies they offered a funny, clever and real account of being an author and shared some valuable tips on how to write for children. I felt comfortable to share my ideas during writing tasks, which were all responded to with kindness but more importantly constructive criticism where needed. They offered a practical and creative approach to what we were there to learn.
  • Ultimately I felt very priveledged- 3 extremely talented and celebrated authors shared their craft with us, it was an experience I won't forget. I also really enjoyed the difference of opinion between the ladies on a number of books, it reminded me that so many things are subjective!
  • Boom! We met Kate Wilson, founder of Nosy Crow. Kate is a force - an exciting, exceptionally knowledgeable and passionate force. I get the feeling that if Kate doesn't know something in the publishing world... you probably don't need to know it.
  • We then met Kirsty Stansfield (editor) and Helen Peters (author). Gifted, gentle, clever ladies. These both gave me a real insight into the editing world that I had no idea about, a realistic and genuine insight.
  • Tracy Corderoy (author) and Louise Bolongaro (editor). Eccentric, funny, talented ladies. Tracy's story made me want to buy a small cottage in Wales and write! Louise gave me  some very valuable pointers and direction in what I want to do. (She also had a fabulous jacket on.)
  • Tracy then spoke about live events - Tracy might be a writer, but my goodness is she a primary school teacher too. (A marvellous one at that.) I want to get out on the road with her!
  • Hilary Delamare. Multi.Talented.Lady.  I hadn't even considered getting an agent - Hilary made me think that I NEED one. 
  • Melissa Cox (Buyer at Waterstones). Kind, powerful, bookworm. Melissa made me feel like I could believe in Waterstones again.
  • Suw Charman Anderson. Tech savvy, whizz kid/lady. Made me reconsider using Twitter - in 2 days I've become a bit obsessed.
  • Back to Kate - well as I said, what she doesn't know isn't really worth knowing. Despite her kick a*s publishing power, what I liked about Kate is that I could feel her passion for children's books and what it was all about, "I love a rhyming picture book, it's one of the things that makes me happy." 

As soon as it had started, it had ended. All I knew was that all the things I had heard meant something, and that I had to go off and, as Lucy Coats said, "Get your bums to seats and get writing!" So, I have started with this blog and am mindmapping the first book... Let's go! 

To those of you that ever read this that were on that weekend- thank you for helping in the first lunge towards my destiny!

And now, I feel only Lionel can say what I want to say. Take it away, big man: