Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Julie Cohen - One Thing I've Learnt

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.

Twitter: @julie_cohen

Julie's 2012 Advanced Novel Writing workshops are sold out, but she is giving workshops at the Festival of Writing in York in September.

An ordinary woman. An extraordinary adventure.
out in paperback from Headline Review


JO said...

Thanks for this - it's very timely for me, as I sent a huge thank you email to my mentor the other day, without whom my book would have been truly turgid. Good to know my thanks will give him a warm glow.

liz fenwick said...

JO - Julie has been a huge help in my an inspiration of what good writing is, as a teacher and THe Cornish House would still be languishing in a drawer if she didn't say the right words to me at the right time!
Julie is fabulous!!

Julie Cohen said...

A thank-you email is one of the best things to receive, ever. Your mentor will be thrilled, JO.

I seriously doubt The Cornish House would be languishing without my words, Liz. You're also very bloody-minded. ;-)

I'm teaching another course this Saturday and am excited to work with authors again!

liz fenwick said...

Julie - it was the wise words that you said here on this blog that turned TCH from a YA to a women's fiction book!

Lucky authors on Saturday!


Rebecca Leith said...

Before you disappear under an avalanche of tss, Julie, I'll get mine in the post :-)
I think one thing I've learnt is the generosity of writers, at whatever stage they're at, to other writers.
B xxx

Wendy Loveday said...

I've been on a couple of your workshops and your enthusiasm is contagious. You helped me understand more about my own writing style and I am now more than halfway through editing my first completed romantic comedy manuscript. Thank you Julie.

Julie Cohen said...

What a lovely thing to say, Wendy. Thank you.

Bex, I agree. The generosity of writers to other writers is incredible.