I left teaching for writing, and I miss it. But I still get my teaching 'fix' by leading creative writing courses, giving workshops and talks, critiquing manuscripts and occasionally being a sounding board or sort of mentor to other authors who are trying to get published. It's very exciting, it teaches me more about writing craft, and it's fun. It is always a privilege.
One thing I've learnt is that there is nothing quite like the feeling when an author who you've helped finally gets their first publishing contract. Don't get me wrong—I can't take any credit for their success. Writing is hard work and nobody can do it but the author. But I know that before I was published, several generous authors helped me, reading drafts and giving advice. I probably would have done it without them—eventually, somehow, because I was extremely bloody-minded—but I know they helped me get there faster and with more confidence. They helped me avoid pitfalls, and to stop making the same mistakes over and over.
I love it when I feel I might have done the same for someone else.
In the past month, I've received two emails, and two public thank-yous, from four authors whom I have worked with, and who have recently signed their first book deal, or their first major book deal. I know that I don't feel one-tenth of the pride, exhilaration, excitement, and joy they feel. But they have let me share it.
It's one of the best feelings in the world.
Julie's 2012 Advanced Novel Writing workshops are sold out, but she is giving workshops at the Festival of Writing in York in September.