I've talked in the past about my discomfort around the great beast that is The Creative Writing Industry.
My feelings over this are no doubt bound up in the fact that I have never attended a CW course, been mentored or paid for a book report. And it hasn't exactly held me back.
I'm also cynical that much of this stuff is simply an exercise designed to part the would-be writer from his hard earned dosh, with vague promises of publication.
It seems to me that every writer I know has a different method of working, so how can any of us really teach anyone what the best way is?
On Saturday, at the Bedford Readers Day, a young author called Anna Stothard explained to the audience that she hardly plots at all. She lets her characters surprise her. Now this could not be more different to the way I work, yet who can say which one of us is right or wrong?
These are then the main reasons why I've always declined offers of teaching, mentoring etc. Plus of course I'm always on such bleddy tight deadlines that I hardly want more work do I?
So why then am I, for the first time, giving serious consideration to such an offer?
First, it can be no coincidence that at the same festival, another author who I greatly admire, Sophie Hannah, commented on how helpful she thought literary agencies were. How she wished they'd been around when she started out.
Second, I've just finished the copy edits on book five, Twenty Twelve, and although I should dive into book six, I'm desperate for a break. Or not so much a break as a change of scene and pace.
Third, as much as I love writing, there's no getting away from the fact that it's a fairly self indulgent way of spending my time. I make stuff up. I write it down. No lives are saved. And while I don't kid myself that mentoring is like vaccinating children in Africa it does seem like a helpful thing to do. Not selfless of course, but less selfish than writing.
I know of course that there are plenty of writers doing this for the cash and not the love, but I know quite a few who say they find this type of work both interesting and satisfying. Helping other writers get to where they want to be makes a tangible difference to their lives.
I dunno. The jury's still out. But I just wondered what any readers thought about it.
Have you guys been helped by someone in this way? Conversely,have you ever felt ripped off?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.