Recently, I wrote a tweet about the barriers I face as a working-class writer. It kind of blew up.
The tweet was written with sincerity but expecting only about 3 likes from my most generous and sympathetic friends. The reaction was staggering and I clearly hit a nerve. It introduced me to lots of great authors who were all so kind and friendly and helpful.
I have learned a lot since I signed my first publishing contract back in July last year. I still remember nearly biting my publishers hand off to sign the contract and feeling on top of the world. Publishing contracts didn’t happen to people like me. I was a young mother, unemployed, living in a northern steel town. I didn’t have a degree. I didn’t even have a job. And here I was, having hit the jackpot. Not a literal jackpot, but a jackpot of opportunity.
And yet, even with a book under my belt at 27, I still found boundaries to advancing as an author and a person. Small time publisher can’t offer advances, so I didn’t receive a penny until my first royalty which was March this year, nine whole months after signing the contract. This wasn’t a big deal but it certainly was a barrier when it came to travelling to literary festivals, going to writers retreats, book promotion and even buying my own books to show and sell. This tweet was partly inspired by some serious fomo when asked to join my publisher and authors for a workshop in the south of France. I’m not here to blame anyone or even moan that I deserve this and that, but it certainly played on my mind that I was being held back because of my working class background. Because it wasn’t just about money. I live somewhere that doesn’t even have a proper bookshop let alone a writers community. I live a very expensive train fare ride from London, or any major city. I don’t have family to support me through university or an internship that would boost my writing skills and potential career. It turns out a lot of people have had the same thoughts and are in the same boat as I am. It felt really great to speak to people about it and I am still in talks with a few working class authors to see what we can do about this.
In addition to all the attention, I was asked to expand on my tweet and write about my experiences for Writer’s HQ. You can find the article here. Please share, like and comment and support Writer’s HQ.