The other weekend, I had the privilege of attending the National Writers’ Conference, organized by Writing West Midlands. It was held at Birmingham University. I’d never actually been to that university campus before and we were hosted in the beautiful and well equipped Bramall Music Building.
I felt a sense of excitement as I walked along the driveway in the pleasant morning sun, with a couple of fellow attendees. And that excitement was not disappointed because throughout the day, we were treated to an inspiring lineup of speakers and presentations that fuelled my happiness to be alive.
While we waited for the first session to convene, I stopped at the bookstand in the upstairs foyer and one of the first books that leaped off the table at me was, ‘The Blank Screen – Blogging’, by William Gallagher. I’ve known for a while that I need to revamp, focus, do something that really works with my blog. So I quite readily turned over the £7, swapping it for the said book. And just as I was about to tuck it under my arm, I caught a glimpse of the name and realized that it was by William Gallagher, who I had recently discovered that I’d be working with in the next series of Spark Young Writers’ workshops.
‘Oh!’ I exclaimed to the stall manager and explained the connection. I soon discovered that William was standing across the room not far from me, so I went over and introduced myself.
The only thing is the book was not actually tucked under my arm as I’d thought, or in my bag where perhaps I should have put it but it was clutched to my chest, the front cover exposed. So as I spoke to William—neither of us knew each other previously—there was his book, like a shameless act of name dropping: I’ll be working with you as your assistant writer and see I bought your book!
For his part, William didn’t hide the fact that he was pleased that I had bought his book and so, of course, since we were on the subject of his book, I made him sign it for me. Well, why not?
I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of everything that the day’s sessions covered. Suffice to say, it was a fruitful day. Most inspirational was talking with new people and hearing what things they were writing. What I do want to say though, is that during one presentation I was surprised to realize just how little authors often actually earn from their books when they have traditional publishing contracts. Ever hear about those advances that they pay you? Well, they’re not actually all they’re cracked up to be. But that’s another story.
The day was topped off with an awards ceremony for the Spark Young Writers group. Some of them shared selections from their work with the audience. I was blown away with the excellence and maturity of their work. I ended up feeling somewhat unqualified, yet challenged and excited, to be included to assist on the upcoming schedule of workshops with William. Under his expert guidance, though, I’m sure it’s going to be great.
But back to the blog: I need to do something about my blog—something to make it better. I’ve started reading ‘The Blank Screen’ already. In it, William says he knows we bought it because of the bit where he says you can make money from your blog. Gosh, is he psychic? But now he’s saying you shouldn’t focus on writing your blog to make money. He says he’s going to tell us how but that that’s not what it’s about. So I’m reading it, every single word, every single page, and I hope I end up with a better blog out of it; I hope I become an even better writer; and by jove, I hope I do earn some money from it…am I a bad person?