Joseph Robert and I were at the Words Ireland writers’ event at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast this afternoon to hear Moyra Donaldson, Sheena Wilkinson and Ian Sansom giving advice on their experience as professional authors. There was a turnout of at least 50-60 writers attending at various stages of their careers; a show of hands revealed that the majority (myself included) had published a book with an ISBN, many had been published in magazines with an ISSN (both Joseph Robert and I included), some had tutored creative writing in workshops (myself included), a few had received grants or funding for their work and only 3 were completely non-published and attending for advice on a starting point to their careers.
Since my writer-poet hubby and I have only been in Northern Ireland for 4 months, it was good for us to get involved and see what resources, funding and support is available to writers, particular for authors from a non academic background. The advice was both useful and insightful: of the professional authors on the panel, 2 explained that only 10% of their income comes from writing books. The rest comes from doing events in schools, at libraries, literary festivals and tutoring creative writing courses. One of the 2 was a completely self-taught poet. The other had a Masters in Creative Writing, but had actually written and edited her first book before doing the course. In addition, advice on professional development as a writer was given, including joining the Society of Authors and financial advice, such as getting an accountant.
Funding is not something I had thought about pursuing until the idea was discussed today; as my writing ranges from the absurd to the subversive and very rarely flirts with the mainstream, I’m not convinced it may be the best route for me. However, since my goal as a writer is to bring my work to an ever growing audience, this may be an avenue that I decide to pursue at a later date. For now, I have a lot of food for thought to digest.