Tomorrow is the second YAShot. This is a brilliant festival put on by Alexia Casale and her fabulous team, and celebrates YA and MG books. There is stacks to do, from workshops to talks, signings and ‘in conversation’ events, followed by the annual UKYA Bloggers award ceremony. It’s being held in various venues around Hillingdon, London. I hope that some of you are coming – if you are, please come and say hello!
The aim is to raise the money and resources to run a year-long programme pairing libraries and schools for free author events to foster a love of reading, inspire a passion for writing, and encourage aspirations to careers in the Arts.
I’ve been asked to run a workshop on ‘Writing, Rewriting and Editing’, and I’ve spent the last few days wondering what the audience might like to hear. I’ve got nearly an hour, and it’s a workshop, not a lecture, so I need to include some exercises for the audience to do. It’s quite tricky when you have no idea who you might be talking to – at a school event you know that it will be all Year 7 and 8, for example, and I can take a reasonable stab at the sorts of things they might want to hear. But this audience is also likely to include a number of adults – some of whom may have more experience of writing books than me – so I need to think about that.
For the last few weeks I’ve been reading various blog posts on the subject, wondering what I can distil down into something useful. The trouble is, there is so much I could cover! The writing bit is pretty straightforward – that’s the bit I love and I can do endlessly. The tricky bit – the bit that requires patience and motivation and a very firm hand – is the editing. When you submit a manuscript to an editor, what you get back can have you crawling under your duvet with a giant bar of Cadbury’s and a large box of Kleenex, determined never to emerge. It’s their job to be brutal, to make the best out of the book, and it can be really quite difficult to accept that they are right. What’s even harder, though, is self-editing – getting the initial manuscript into the best shape that you can and making your own decisions to cut great chunks of it out. I’ve just done this with my latest project, and culled about 15,000 words so far. It’s been tough, but I think the book will be better for it.
So tomorrow, I hope that I can encourage people to write and to not be put off by the rewriting and the editing. A published book has to go through all the stages, so anyone who wants to try and be get their story onto the shelves has to accept that.
If you were going to be in my audience tomorrow, what would you like to hear?