Monday, 24 August 2009

Shop Front Inspiration Karen Ball


Last week I had a day off from my 9-5 job and was walking through the glorious Bethnal Green, prior to meeting my family for lunch. (What an East End hodge podge Bethnal Green is! I saw second-hand catering equipment being sold off in a car park, a bed warehouse called ‘Happy Nightmares’, Hackney City Farm, a shop under railway arches selling vintage clothing, row after row of sarong fabrics – oh, and of course, loads of recently arrived café culture.) As I strolled, I thought about my latest SAS blog entry; I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to say. Then on Columbia Road I spotted a shop window display that screamed ‘Rules For Writers!’. I ran over and tried my best to take a photo, but the reflected glare of happy sunshine off the window pane makes the posters a little difficult to read. If you can’t make them out here, I’ve transcribed below:
Think Of Your Own Ideas
Work Hard And Be Nice To People
It Is Ok For Me To Have Everything I Want

Think Of Your Own Ideas
I subscribe to the theory that there are no new ideas, only the same stories told over and over again. I enjoy the fact that any or all storytelling can arguably be highly unoriginal. It helps to keep things in perspective. But I do think it’s dangerous to chase fashions or follow trends. Consider the time it takes to be told ‘YA is hot!’, to have an idea, write it, redraft it, see it circulated, hopefully see it published… Will YA still be hot? And was your heart ever truly wedded to that manuscript whose birth was so difficult? We must all think of our own ideas, regardless of what the publishing community says is the Next Big Thing. I’m not sure I always entirely believe those voices that ring out confidently making trade predictions, telling us what the sways and pulses of bookselling are likely to be over the coming year. It’s a crazy, unpredictable business – no one really knows what will sell next. That’s what makes it such an exciting industry to be part of. That’s why ideas are so important.

Work Hard And Be Nice To People
A motto for writing and for life. If someone has a talent for hard graft, that’s half the battle. The world of would-be writers is neatly divided into Talkers and Doers. There are those who chat at parties about how they’d love to write a book one day. Then there are those who get up before work, or keep weekends free, the characters who can’t sleep and work in the night or quietly slip off at lunchtime with a pad and pen. Quiet, modest, hard work: it goes a long way. The ‘Be Nice To People’ part? I don’t think this is simply about getting on with your editor or smiling at publishing parties, thanking book buyers or thinking carefully about your next dedication. It is about much, much more than that. The random but significant moments when you take the time. I’m no saint (see me swearing at van drivers as I cycle into work!), but I always remember the dark times in my own life when I craved a kind word or friendly face. Give it out, because one day you’ll need it. Oh, and you might just find yourself with a reputation as a good sort to work with.

It Is Ok For Me To Have Everything I Want
Ha! Where to start with this one? Definitely a motto to remember when you’re chasing a payment, an advance copy, an email of acknowledgement, or even the simple time to write. Most writers have day jobs, families, chores, duties. Somewhere in amongst all that we also need to find spare hours for writing. Without feeling guilty. Banish guilt! Spurn timidity! Laugh in the face of sentences that start, ‘I’m terribly sorry to trouble you, but…’ Easy for me to say here, I know. (And if you’ve met me, you’ll know that the word ‘pushy’ does not exactly spring to mind!) But we should all remind ourselves on a daily basis: It Is Ok For Me To Have Everything I Want.
Who would have thought? Three simple posters in a window on a quiet street on a sunny morning. I wonder if the shop owner knows any writers…

2 comments:

Ms. Yingling said...

How funny! I have decided that the only two rules I will have in the library this year are "Work hard. Be nice." It really covers everything my students need to do.

Yeswanth said...

Heya¡­my very first comment on your site. ,I have been reading your blog for a while and thought I would completely pop in and drop a friendly note. . It is great stuff indeed. I also wanted to ask..is there a way to subscribe to your site via email?

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