I first met Sarah Duncan at my very first RNA conference and had serious hair envy. Her hair was longer then, and absolutely STUNNING. And we got chatting there and later on email and loops, and after that we discovered we went to the same university, and knew lots of the same people in the romance-writing world, and liked a lot of the same sorts of things, and – well, Sarah’s lovely. And her blog is just brilliant for writing tips – really makes you think, without making you freeze. She’s taught me a lot. Plus I happen to like her books. (I saved A Single to Rome for the plane journey to Rome, last year, and it was just fabulous.)
Over to Sarah:
A Tale of Two Writers
Kate Hardy is my not-quite writing twin. I met Kate at my first ever Romantic Novelists Association Conference, when we'd both just published out first novels having started writing at about the same time. Now she's published her 50th, and writing No 53. I've published my 5th and am writing no 6. Well, I did say she was my not-quite writing twin.
When you become a writer, it's all too easy to start comparing your career with another's. You enter a short story comp and don't get placed, then read the winning entry avidly, trying to work out what that story had that yours didn't. A friend gets an agent on the first attempt when you could paper the whole house with rejection letters. Someone publishes 50 books when you're struggling to finish No 6....
What have I been doing with my time while Kate's been so productive? I've developed a fabulous secondary career as a writing tutor, academic and blogger, which I love. I've taught creative writing at the universities of Oxford and Bristol, am the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Bath and blog about creative writing craft on www.sarahduncansblog.blogspot.com.
Is that better, or worse than having 50 books published? Or just different?
We have to follow our own paths and there's no point in comparing someone else's route with your own. You can only write your own book, not someone else's. At its worst, envy can be destructive and undermine your own creativity until you give up writing altogether.
Instead, celebrate your friends' successes and they will in turn celebrate yours when they come.
Cheers, Kate, and here's to the next 50!
Sarah Duncan's most recent book is Kissing Mr Wrong, which was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists Association Romantic Novel of the Year. She blogs about creative writing craft at www.sarahduncansblog.blogspot.com. Autumn term for her weekly creative writing class in Bath starts 5th October; for more information contact Sarah at email@example.com.
Sarah’s offering a giveaway of A Single to Rome, which was longlisted for the RNA Novel of the Year – leave a comment below to put your name in the draw :o)