Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for August, 2013

Commercial Potential

It had taken a long time to get to this point.  Many years wasted,  wishing on the ‘never going to happen’ star.   Followed by many years of gentle hints that I might possibly wish to forgo the annual cold wet camping/sailing holiday with the family and pop over the hill to Swanwick.   Now the family were older, Sexy Sporty Dad in a moment of madness suggested I book my holiday  and the family could fend for themselves for a week.


Irrevocably in to my dream week before he had the chance to think about what he had said; let alone change his mind.

So here I was all alone in an alien world not knowing anyone.  I had to leave my room sometime. Bravely shutting the door on my haven I followed the noise of a few chatty people outside.   Delaying any moment of verbal contact I held the door for a lady a few steps behind.

“Oh you’re a white badger”

“Yes” I replied surprised at the childlike reticence in my voice; wondering what initiation I would trigger.

“How is your room?  Do you know anyone?”  my terrified shake of the head gave me away.  “Come with me and we will get some tea.”  Suddenly I had a friend.  With our tea we met other members of her lovely writing circle who had come as a group for years.  I was embraced like an old friend by others eager to meet past friends and develop new ones.  I was no longer the frightened imposter who had arrived but an hour ago.   I was part of the crowd, part of the magic, I was a writer.

That is Swanwick all over; always a friendly face to guide you, a supportive word to encourage you and interested contemporaries to inspire you.

The welcome reception for white badgers gave me the opportunity to mingle with committee members, fellow white badgers and a few regulars on hand to guide and include.   A glass of wine softened any remaining doubt that I was gate crashing a private party.   More relaxed I was able to answer questions about my lack of published work.   I explained I was editing a novel which I hoped to get published and found I was not the only person in that position. I summoned the courage to tell of my blogging and early tweeting experiences to people interested in my attempts,  not only my successes.

The program I had been sent would be my bible for the forthcoming week.   I would refer to it countless times a day.  I wanted to do everything, I wanted to experience everything, I didn’t want to miss a moment.    I can see why people come back time and time again, there is so much on offer all crammed into just one week. Many workshops clashed, I couldn’t possibly do everything. I wasn’t even sure I could cope with the pace to do all that didn’t clash.   Days would be filled with workshops; learning, interacting, discovering in my own special world.





One special event took place when I met with my 1 to 1 specialist.  I had agonised and anguished for many hours before anxiously sending the first 3000 words of “Memories”.    Would she like it, would she be the first to realise I am not meant to be a writer, would she critique it so much there is none of my beloved story left?   Self-doubt and regret at signing up for such close scrutiny both clouded and dulled my passion for my story.  I went to meet her all the same.

The most positive 20 minutes of my life.

She encouraged me, she advised me and she loved the story.  As the moments passed I became bolder asking questions about publishing and e-books.  I wanted to know where to go next.   Two simple words will ring in my ears for the rest of my life. “Comercial Potential”!  Her suggestion was that I should finish writing in the extra character and then get it professionally looked at and in the meantime think about getting an agent.

An agent.   Never in a million years had I imagined being in a position to get an agent.  What does an agent do, why are they more effective than just sending it off to any publisher?  I was now on the threshold of that next scary, exciting, wonderful step of the journey.  I attended the course on “Editing your Manuscript” given by an Agent, who answered my questions before I even asked them.  She answered many I had not got round to thinking about and left me with even more to explore.

From that point on, nothing was going to detract from the pure magic of my stay in Derbyshire.  Although to be fair the culmination of so many heightened emotions the enchanted atmosphere was going to be hard for me to dent.

Inspiration,  I got not just from the workshops and fantastically diverse but talented speakers but also from the supportive and understanding Swanwick family.   We all write, in such distinct and different genres but we all use words.  We all have aspirations and goals within our writing world and with my new friends I will take away the courage to follow my dreams.

The end of the week draws close and I must remember the love, the joy and the passion these people gave me as I must return to the outside world.



check out my cooking blog at  tea-time treats 





Do you remember those delicious home made cheesecakes from your childhood when they were still uncommercialised and had a lighter flavour?    I serve this up for the children sometime who actually do not like cheesecake normally, they love this version.

This is not a last minute pudding as it needs chilling to allow it to set.

Packet of biscuits – digestives or I used ginger nuts
Tub of Soft Cheese
Tin of Condensed Milk
Sheet of Gelatine 
Tin of Mandarin Pieces 

Break up the biscuits in the old fashioned way – a bag and a rolling pin or you can use a chopper to get them really small and even.

Melt the butter and add the biscuits – mix well 

Cover the bottom of the dish with the biscuit mix, leaving a slight well in the centre.  Leave to chill for a good hour or so  –  I use the freezer to help things along.

Soak the gelatin according to the packet instructions – as different makes have different ways of making it.  I use leaf gelatin so it needs to be soaked in cold water.

Meanwhile, in  a blender add the cheese and the condensed milk and whisk well till it is a runny consistency.  Add in the soaked geletine and whisk again.    You could add vanilla extract or lemon juice at this point but it is fine without.

Pour into the hard biscuit base and return to the freezer / fridge for chilling.

Make sure the centre is solid before serving then remove from fridge and add the drained mandarins. At this point any fruit can be used, strawberries, raspberries or any other.

Serve to the delighted family but be warned – there is enough for about 10 people so I tried to save some for the next day.  The fridge imp was obviously hungry overnight and there was non left the following day!

Have a go and let me know any variations you come up with.  


check out my trip to the Swanwick Writing School on my other blog at Tiggy Hayes

What’s in a Name?

The journey went too quickly despite every procrastinating ploy to postpone the inevitable arrival.  Just to calm the hyperactive hefalumps practising their aerobic workout in the depth of my stomach I pulled off the road just before the entrance to the school.  Tucking myself well out of sight of any passing car, lest they offer to show me the way, or worse still remove all possibility of escape.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be here; and I never thought I would ever say that about going back to school.   It wasn’t even that I was missing my family as I had only said goodbye a few hours earlier.  It wasn’t even that I felt cheated that we were not spending our holiday abroad.

I was about to join the Swanwick School of Writers.

Here I was purporting to be a writer; struggling to even finish the eternal editing of my story let alone send it off to be published.  I was going to try and wing a whole week convincing the writing world I was as good as them.  What would happen when they found out I was not in the same league as them not even in a league?  How quickly would it take them to realise I could not really write?   Why did I ever send my work off to be scrutinised in a 1-to-1 with someone who actually knows what she is talking about.  I could still turn round and spend the week in a cold damp tent watching the family sail.

Tempting as the choice may have been, a warm bed, working showers and no cooking for a week was enough to win me over.   I put the car in to first and eased slowly up the winding drive.  Glimpses at first of the country house became bigger, longer as the house grew in stature and terror before my fear filled eyes.   Parking facing the lake I wished fervently for the water to rise up and overwhelm the car taking me with it.  Ignoring my wishes the lake stretched wide and calmly to both sides, ducks lurking in the distance, reeds blowing ever so gently in the balmy breeze.

It is funny how one of my favourite songs just happened to be played on the CD player at just the point I should have been leaping in excitement from the car.  I was delayed yet again to finish listening.   With no more justifiable tactics I got out of the car and took slow deliberate steps to the reception.   A well versed welcome greeted me as I was given a room key and a white badge indicating I had never attended this annual school before.

Having unloaded the car, lugged my heavy case up the stairs along the corridor, up another two flights of stairs and round the last corner into my corridor.  I walked all the way to the end before finding my room.  Slowly and deliberately I put away everything at least twice before I considered myself unpacked and ready.  For what?

My first job that I had been charged with was to write my name on the badge so that I could wear it wherever I went over the week.  A simple task!  But which name should I choose?   I had booked in under my own name but was not sure that here at the writing school I really wanted to be known as that.

Here I was a writer, and here I wanted to be known as Tiggy, after all that is what will be on my as yet unpublished books if I survived the week and was not uncovered for the fraud I am.   Nobody knew who Tiggy was; she had no room allotted to her and no 1-to-1 meeting to discuss her work.  Another dallying technique took a few attempts batting backwards and forwards the merits of who I am or who I was going to be.

Finally I wrote my name clearly and boldly with pink trim and clipped it proudly to my chest.   An extra splash of perfume and a new fresh layer of makeup and the transformation was complete.  I could now face the welcoming white badges reception; I could immerse myself in the magical world and join enthusiastically in with fellow writers safe in the persona of my penname.   Tiggy stepped into the unknown welcome of likeminded, published and unpublished, struggling and successful, beautiful world of Swanwick.


Tiggy white badger


Check out my cooking blog at Teatime Treats with Tiggy

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