Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Guest Blogger Charlie Cochrane - Getting Out Of the Lonely Writing Garret

When I look back at my writing life when I was first published, about five years ago, my equivalent of going into the office of a morning was logging on to the computer. The authors (and readers) I met were all online, via facebook or live journal or what have you. It took me a couple of years to be brave enough to find some real life authors to meet face to face.

That first authors’ lunch (after much googling and e-mailing and being invited as a guest) was at the local chapter meeting of the Romantic Novelists Association. It was wonderful, not least because they were so welcoming of new blood and – perhaps more importantly – so unready to bat an eye at the fact I wrote about romance between two men, as opposed to the traditional “boy meets girl”. I felt empowered. Or something.

Next step was to join the RNA as a proper member, but that didn’t feel like enough. Whatever the wonderful feeling was that had engulfed me, I knew I wanted more, so when I stumbled across the Festival of Romance (I spend much of my writing career stumbling across things or having them stumble across me) I hoped they’d let me get involved. Blow me down if I didn’t get asked to do a panel. I’ve supported the event ever since. There’s nothing quite like talking to more experienced authors, getting inside information, sharing tips, learning by other people’s mistakes and their great ideas. And being with people who understand author problems, which might – naturally – be a mystery to people outside the profession.

At this point I was on a roll, having volunteered to be on the organising panel for UK Meet, which is the GLBTQ equivalent of the Festival of Romance, I guess, in that it’s a great mixture of business and pleasure, authors and readers, industry stuff and non-industry stuff.

“Friendly and unpretentious” as I’ve heard it described, although that’s not to say it isn’t professionally run. The unique point about UK Meet is you’re among people who “get” our particular genre. Nobody looks down on us because we write/read what we write/read. Nobody asks us, “Why don’t you stop writing that sort of book and write a proper novel instead?” We know that what we write are proper novels. That sort of like minded thinking makes for an extremely inclusive, relaxed event.

Trouble is, when you get into something, you’re always on the lookout for new opportunities. And yes, when you’re least expecting it, up an opportunity pops. One of the people I met through the RNA lunches said, “Would you be interested in doing library talks? There’s this organisation called Mystery People who have all sorts of things going on.”I almost knocked her down in my rush to say, “Yes, where do I sign?”

As a result of that, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know some great mystery writers, and appear with them at various events, talking about what we love best – writing – and what we love second best, which seems to be Mr Foyle off “Foyle’s War”.

So, I’d encourage all authors, if they can (and I know it’s just not possible for some of us to step out of the garret) to take a deep breath, be brave and go out to find kindred spirits. It’ll do you the power of good.

As Charlie Cochrane couldn't be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with books published by Samhain, Carina, MLR and Cheyenne.

Charlie's Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team of the UK Meet, for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames, five dizzy but delightful mystery writers.

Links, etc:

You can reach Charlie at cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com (maybe to sign up for her newsletter?) or catch her on Facebook, twitter, goodreads, her website or her blog.


Charlie Cochrane said...

Thanks for hosting me.

Meg Benjamin said...

Hi Charlie, thanks for joining us. I've enjoyed being part of RWA here in the US--definitely good to have writer friends!

Charlie Cochrane said...

It makes life so much more interesting, Meg, for sure!

Kelly Jamieson said...

Welcome back Charlie! Meeting other authors in person is so awesome. It's great hanging out with people who really get you!

Charlie Cochrane said...

Thanks, Kelly. Yes, the 'getting' bit makes all the difference. Non authors don't always understand the daft little problems that crop up!