Because, just when I was begining to think the country had been ‘cut’ and bled dry, I got a welcome surprise.
When I applied to The Arts Coucil, UK, for their ‘Grants for the Arts’ scheme, I wasn’t really expecting to qualify. More often than not these kinds of applications come back with some kind of ‘Sorry, but because, in your application, you mentioned that you spent more than six weeks in Wales, during the ages of 16 to 21, you are not eligible…’ But, you know what? I didn’t have any of that! About eight weeks after I applied, I got a ‘Congratulations!’ through the post!
Once upon a time, I, like many others, assumed that when you become a published writer, that is it, you are now an author. This is of course true, but only to a certain extent. Quite a lot of people seem surprised to discover that most first time authors, and, for that matter, second or third time authors (maybe even beyond that!) still have to work a day job to make ends meet. For a first time author, who has no solid body of work, no loyal fanbase, and whose book is, to say the least, a bit of a gamble, this is hardly surprising. Luckilly, before jumping in the deep end, I had educated myself and was prepared for this. What I had not taken into consideration however, was family and sequels.
Writing draft one of book one wasn’t too tough (long train journeys to and from work, quiet evenings and weekends, freedom to disappear into a coffee shop whenever I chose…). But, now married, with two kids, the prospect of writing a sequel, whilst promoting book one and working a full-time job is a tad trickier! So to receive a grant that will allow me to drop the day job for five months is an absolute blessing.
I already feel privileged enough to be a published writer, but to be given this support from The Arts Council to help turn this opportunity into a career, is absolutely overwhelming. I am genuinely struggling to find words to describe how… nope, cant find the words. Just, lucky, privileged, fortuitous, grateful and all the other words that I am lost for.
When people now ask me what I do for a living, and I get to reply ‘I’m an author’, for some strange reason, I feel a bit like a snob. Maybe it’s becasue I have always held the title of ‘Author’ in such high regard, that to now use it to describe myself seems somewhat above my station. Or perhaps it is because in some generalised, narrow-minded stereotypical way of me, I have always assumed that the title of ‘Author’ is something reserved for the upper classes. And knowing how difficult it is for someone on a moderately low income to attempt to make a career of it, it’s not an entirely unjustified assumption. It takes time to write, but, as we hear over and over again, time is money.
It is organisations like The Arts Council that helps ensure that people from all backgrounds get to have a chance at a career that might otherwise be financially beyond their grasp. As a nation we are very lucky to have such an organisation, and even luckier that it survived the recent cullings.
There are now just two remaining obvectives.
1. Not to blow this opportunity by writing a crap 2nd book.
2. Hope that EVERY SINGLE LIBRARY IN THE COUNTRY DOESN’T GET SHUT DOWN, so that reading doesn’t become a past time for only the upper classes and those who can afford to buy every book they ever want to read!
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