“I’m trying to write a novel.”
At one time, I would have said this in a whisper – if I’d admitted it at all. Although I’ve been writing since childhood, I kept my stories to myself for many years. I told myself the privacy was important for several reasons – mainly because the time I spent writing was precious to me, something that was exclusively mine, and because I knew I was still learning. While these things were true, I was also more than a bit scared.
I love reading as much as I love writing and gazing at my packed bookshelves, the idea that one day I might be published too seemed not just arrogant, but ridiculous – all those brilliant authors out there, how could I presume I might have anything to offer? Admittedly, I had my daydreams, but still… What about the criticism that would come with sharing my work? And the rejection? The fear of feeling exposed?
Thank goodness I got over that!
As I grew older, my excitement about writing became a force of its own (which meant the daydreams began to bubble over) and this, combined with a few life changes, transformed everything. Three published novels and a short story collection later, plus having completed a Creative Writing MA, I couldn’t be happier – but none of it would have happened if I’d kept my ideas, notebooks and manuscripts holed up with the dust-bunnies under the bed.
I can’t stress enough how much the practical and personal support I’ve received from terrific tutors, wonderful workshops and a fantastic fiction feedback group have helped along the way (though they may not have fully cured my addiction to alliteration). When I started offering my own creative writing workshops in 2012, I hoped other writers might feel as inspired and liberated as I had.
In my workshops, I try to offer exercises that are playful, practical and individual. Ideally I hope that a writer taking one of my courses will find the space to develop and celebrate their own unique writing voice while also learning effective writing habits that will provide ongoing rewards. We’ll consider technical elements such as honing characters and settings, along with understanding essential aspects like structure and point of view – but we’ll also look at the tale that only you can tell. Whether you have a vague but nagging idea for a novel or a manuscript you can’t stop rewriting, I hope the workshops will help.
I don’t believe your novels and short stories belong under the bed. At times, writing can be about hard graft and challenging yourself and thinking outside of the box, but it also has the potential to be the most exhilarating and transformative thing that you ever do.
By Megan Taylor
Megan Taylor is a tutor for our Nottingham School. She is the author of three novels, How We Were Lost, The Dawning and The Lives of Ghosts and a short story collection, The Woman Under the Ground. She has an MA in Novel Writing, with Distinction, from Manchester Metropolitan University and has been enjoying running creative writing workshops for over six years.