Working alone can be difficult, and writing is a solitary business. That’s why I was so pleased to have found Litopia, an on-line ‘colony’ of writers. It’s more than a forum, but is a support system for writers and would be writers from all over the world. Through them I have met interesting people, exchanged hints and tips, exchanged humour and bonhomie and most of all received bucketloads of ENCOURAGEMENT for writing. That is so important as there are times when I have felt like giving up and going back to the UK.
I recently sent my (almost) final draft to another Litopian in San Francisco for her to read before I started submitting in earnest. What she said in response was: ‘Let me start by saying I really enjoyed it. You have done a great job writing this story. There is really enough drama and meat for a whole series here and I really love it.’ This came after a long period of me getting frustrated with the editing process and starting to see more errors in the text than good writing; in retrospect, it’s easy to see why. Editing is about identifying and fixing errors as well as honing the text into more compact narrative. Because one is focused on errors, it is easy to lose sight of the good bits. Her feedback has helped me see the writing in a bit more perspective, for which I am so grateful.
The good news is that the first agent I submitted to has asked to see the full m/s on the basis of the first three chapters. This in spite of my worries that I had been premature in sending her the work before I had fully edited it. So now, I will wait until she gives me her verdict. It will be good to get some professional feedback, even if it’s just a form rejection. In the meantime, I am pushing ahead with volume two.
The French have a phrase they use frequently when they see people working or undertaking any sort of project. It is: ‘Bon Courage’. There is no real equivalent translation into English. It isn’t ‘Good luck,’ as that implies some element of chance, and ‘stiff upper lip,’ doesn’t convey the bonhomie involved, but rather, ‘You’re on your own with this, matey.’ It’s the sort of thing you say to a neighbour who is fixing their shutters or painting the woodwork.
The photo is the ‘Société d’Encouragement’ in Paris. This is part of the same movement that gave rise to a similar organisation in the UK, of which I am a fellow. It is the RSA, the ‘Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce’ (my emphasis). It has eschewed the longer title, and the word ‘encouragement’ barely features in its mission statement. Contrast this with the emphasis on Encouragement shown on the nameplate.
So let’s hear it for encouragement! And to all of you who are facing a difficult task in the days ahead, ‘Bon Courage!’
There is more on the Société d’Encouragement here.