Do you consider yourself a writer?

I spent this afternoon at my local Clough helping promote the Prestwich Book Festival which started today. I had some copies of The Crazy Oik and was even asked to sign one (with my story in it) for a customer – a new and very pleasant experience! I had no idea that we had so many local writers right on my doorstep, and this has made me remember just how isolating writing can be if we don’t make a conscious effort to go out there and find our fellow writers. Sometimes it is a good thing, of course – there are times when we need peace and tranquility. But we also need an audience, and an exchange of energy to avoid becoming stale. The trick is to find the right people, the ones who will support you without jealousy or harsh criticism when you are feeling vulnerable, who will be as interested in writing, or even books generally, as you are.

I often hear writers, including fairly well-published ones, talk about the difficulty of accepting themselves as ‘real’ writers. It is particularly hard when we surround ourselves – intentionally or not  – with non-writers or non-readers. These non-creatives tend to view writing as something frivolous and feel uneasy when faced with someone imaginative. To make themselves feel safe, they would try to make us, the creatives, feel as if we are doing something unworthy with our life. No matter what our achievements, at these times we may even agree with them, especially if they are people we respect, like our parents or our peers. In fact, someone recently posted on Facebook how, when asked what he does for a living, he feels uncomfortable saying he is a writer even though he has two published novels and a third one on the way. The reason he, and many others, feel this way, is because so many things nowadays are measured by money. But success isn’t about the money. Ask yourself – would you write if you were already very rich? And what if you were never going to get paid for your writing?

We need to stick together, to remember that without the support of other writers and artists, in a world of those who find books boring and art – useless, our work will not flourish. Find your own support network, be it online or in person. Go out there, talk to people, get your work out and you’ll see your creativity grow.

And if you are in Manchester, get yourselves to the Prestwich Book Festival and make sure you come and say hello!