Edinburgh Literary Salon

I’d naively hoped I’d have a bit more time to write here for the next 40 days and nights, as something suitably Lenten. Behold, the barren week-long gap here that resulted! Let’s fix that, with a few scribbles about last night’s adventure in networking.

Networking isn’t something that comes easily to me- or, I imagine, a lot of creatives. The sum of my networking has been trundling round last summer’s conventions and hovering around with other newly-published short story writers. But the Edinburgh Literary Salon is taking things up a level. A quick look around Twitter showed agents and writers coming from London. Ian Rankin often pops along too. When I arrived, Charlie Stross was hovering by the door. I have to say, I got a bit panic-stricken wandering through the crowds. I didn’t know anyone, and my friend who was going to be a wingman didn’t make it along. Then I realised I was basically having Impostor Syndrome.

This is every day, folks.

Thing is, a monthly networking event for people with a professional interest in writing is exactly the wrong time for Impostor Syndrome to hit. So it was that, after momentarily looking like a rabbit in headlights, I got talking to a couple from One o’clock Gun, a lovely Japanese painter, and then I got punted towards Ali from City of Literature, who was doing a fine job welcoming nervous newcomers like me. She pointed out a few authors I should meet- alas, I only managed a brief chat with one and it was about, er, gin- and then I was off towards the name badges.

Bear in mind that, thanks to arriving too late for the free wine, I’ve only just got over the hurdle of saying ‘I’m a writer, and I’ve written an urban fantasy novel’ to complete strangers. Now I have to fill in a ‘Hi, I’m — Ask me about —‘ sticker. I couldn’t decide between ‘Ask me about unruly selkies’, ‘Ask me about unlikely teenage heroes’ and, more cynically, ‘Ask me about my reasonable freelance rates’. I settled on the more generic ‘my novel’. It turned out there were other newbies, and we bonded over debating where the YA boundaries lie, why children’s books are criminally under-exposed, and my cool nerdy jewellery. I knew USB-powered dragon earrings would be a talking point.

Only way these'd be cooler is if they stored my novel too.

Only way these’d be cooler is if they stored my novel too.

By this point, I’ve even got bold enough to dust off the elevator pitch and try it out on a few folk, who seemed to a) like the sound of it and b) be suitably impressed at the fact I’ve written a Thing. I was lucky enough to meet Ruth from Moniack Mhor, a gorgeous writing retreat in the Highlands, and local storyteller James, whose book on Scottish Borders folk tales is out this year. I haven’t had many nights where the conversation takes in Star Trek: TNG, how oral storytelling is its own form of editing, Homeric epics, political canvassing, the best craft beer in Inverness, why Yes are better than Genesis (*hiss*) and the perils of developing characters. A good time all round, then, and I shouldn’t have been at all worried. I’ll be back next month, maybe even with finished edits to be victorious about.

As an added bonus, while in the taxi home I remembered explaining the reason my main character and his brother react differently to the Spoilerriffic Bad Stuff that’s happened to them, and had a sudden epiphany about an edit I’ve been struggling with. That deserves a Victory Llama.

*happy dance*

*happy dance*

Clearly, I should go to salons more often. Maybe I should also take inspiration from James’s anecdote about Robert Louis Stevenson and his brownies. Do you think they like half-nibbled oven chips as an offering?

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2 thoughts on “Edinburgh Literary Salon

  1. Pingback: Glass houses | Writings from Otherworld

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