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July 24th, 2015

National-Literacy-Trust-blogFirst, thanks to Simon for last week’s blog. I really like the idea of ‘Demented Optimism’ – as a writer I don’t think you ever get anywhere unless you believe in yourself and your creations. Such optimism may be demented, but it’s essential!

I read an article recently in the Sunday Times Magazine. It was about a man called Denis Pethebridge – and his 30 years of literary failure! In a leather-bound scrap book he had amassed 338 rejection letters. Starting in 1937 he had sent out articles, stories and novels to just about every newspaper, magazine, agent and publisher in the UK…and had rejections from them all. But did that stop him? No. By 1967 he was planning to start a new volume of rejection letters because the first was overflowing. Apparently he eventually self-published a novel in 1996 at the age of 77 and went on to live until he was 94. In his case optimism, however unfounded, was no detriment to his health. You’ve got to have staying power if you really want to be a writer, and not let rejection get you down.

Next, I’ve received an email from the The National Literary Trust. They work very hard to raise awareness of literacy issues by lobbying politicians and the press. They tackle literacy for both adults and children – trying to stop the cycle of low reading attainment in deprived areas and encourage reading for pleasure.

They’ve just launched their first Poetry Prize in partnership with Bloomsbury Publishing and are looking for people to write a poem of up to 16 lines, on the themes of reading and/or literature. Poems will be aimed at children/young people.

Their research shows that poetry is particularly popular amongst disadvantaged young people who are more likely to read poems outside class than their peers. The poem that wins this competition will ultimately be used to inspire children through a poster campaign across the country. The prize includes an iPad and £250 worth of Bloomsbury books. The closing date is 31st August, so if you fancy supporting them with your entry fee, winning a prize and seeing your work displayed around the country, then why not have a go? Incidentally, an example of the type of poem they are looking for is shown on the competition website.

And talking of competitions, the Writers Bureau Short Story Competition 2015 is now open for entries. There are cash prizes but the four winners will also receive a Writers Bureau course of their choice worth up to £394. The entry fee is £5.00 per story and the closing date is 30th November, but if you get your entries in early you can relax and start thinking about which course you’ll choose if you win.

My guest blogger next week is Vincent de Paul, a successful Writers Bureau student from Kenya who’ll be telling you what difficulties writers face in that part of the world, and how to overcome them.

I’ve noticed that there’s quite a lot of chit-chat on the student forum about blogging. The idea of blogging seems to be very popular, but very few people approach me and offer interesting posts. I love featuring guests but if you don’t contact me, I can’t invite you to take part. So, if you’d like to provide a post there are one or two things to remember: it must be writing related, it must be 3-500 words long and it should cover your own experiences of writing, or how you achieved success, or some kind of useful advice to other writers. But don’t ask me what I want you to write – prepare a piece and send it to me (dianan@writersbureau.com – put ‘guest blog’ in the subject line). Remember, we put a credit at the end so if you’ve a new book to push or you want to increase traffic to your own blog, then this might be just what you’re looking for.

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