Wednesday 12 August 2020

A is for Adaptability by Vanessa Harbour

 A is for Author and I am living the dream – keep telling yourself that Ness. What is not in the job description is that A is for Adaptability, even more so since the pandemic hit. It puts a huge amount of pressure on us. 

There was a time when people spoke about authors writing their books and remaining in ivory towers. Then Virginia Woolf wrote eloquently about the importance of ‘a room of one’s own and £500’ for any woman who wanted to write fiction. I do wonder what she would think of the life of a 21st-century writer.

Yes, there are many more opportunities, but the pressures are equally as great. You definitely can’t sit in your ivory tower and write these days – your publisher needs to know what your social media presence is first.  I have found that since becoming an author the skillset on my CV has increased exponentially and since COVID well…

I have become a web designer.

I can create content.

I can create videos.

I am my own administrator.

I manage various social media platforms.

I can design interesting, educational, and informative virtual workshops - (please see Dawn Finch's important post about being willing to pay for these, we can't keep producing free content) 

I am being a marketer as I push my virtual events to schools, libraries, bookshops…anyone that’ll have me actually. Many of us have seen our incomes disappear as school visits, festivals etc have disappeared

I can effectively use Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype for meetings, lectures, workshops, and family quizzes!

Oh, and I can still be creative and write books. 

I know I am not the only one. This is what all children’s authors are doing and probably a fair few adult ones too.

It is a good thing as authors we can be adaptable. We can wear many different hats and be many different people to many different organisations. We are doing our best to get our stories to children who we know need these narratives of hope. They need to know the world is still going to be ok.


We can do this. Keep calm, keep wearing all the hats, keep writing those stories and remember #paycreators


Dr Vanessa Harbour



Nick Garlick said...

I found this inspiring. And unsettling. Unsettling because self-promotion is something that does NOT come easily to me, if at all. I think you're absolutely right that it's a skill we need to acquire, and I admire enormously your taking it on. I just wish the thought of it didn't make me want to crawl under the carpet. (And I'm wondering how many other writers - of all stripes - feel the same.)

Andrew Preston said...

Interested to discover that in 1929, when Woolf wrote 'A Room of One's Own', £500 equated to almost the same as todays median average salary of £31,000 p.a.