It’s a little bit different here on Linda’s Book Bag today as I’m welcoming Rufus Purdy along to be interviewed all about his brand new venture of services for authors, Write Here…. Given that I may just finish my own novel one day, I thought it would be fun to see what Rufus has to say!
An Interview with Rufus Purdy
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Rufus.
Thank you! It’s a pleasure to be here.
I understand you’ve recently established Write Here… Could you tell us a bit about that please?
(Now that sounds like something I might need!)
Each of our courses is taught by a published novelist and, over 12, two-hour sessions, they’ll take students through the most important aspects of novel-writing – giving them everything they need to properly focus on and complete their manuscript – as well as leading workshops in which students’ own novels-in-progress will be looked at in detail. The tutor will also give each student a dedicated, one-to-one tutorial.
I see the Write Here… courses as the antithesis of expensive MA creative writing programmes. I don’t think people need to spend thousands of pounds to be subjected to an academic approach to writing – and no one needs a qualification to be able to write a novel others want to read.
(Oh. I think that might be quite a controversial approach given how many writers do take MA courses!)
Why have you chosen to offer creative writing courses across the UK?
One reason is that, in most UK cities, writers in need of support only have the option of an expensive MA course or a writing group down the local library – taught by someone who’s never written anything publishable in their lives, and open to absolutely anybody. I want to offer serious writers a space in which they can work with other authors of a similar ability, and be guided by a writing professional.
The other reason is that I worked for years running high-quality courses in London – and, though what we were giving writers was a wonderful package, it often felt to me as though we were only attracting applications from well-off people in London and the Home Counties. As a Northerner, this always irked me. So I decided I wanted to find exciting new voices in fiction who, until now, been excluded from courses such as these for geographical and financial reasons. That’s why our courses only cost a third of their equivalents in London.
(As someone living in darkest Lincolnshire with around £60 a go to travel to London, with petrol, parking – £13.50 before I even get on a train – and rail and Tube fares, I can appreciate that!)
What can prospective or aspiring writers like me expect from one of your courses?
You can expect to be part of a small group of dedicated, like-minded writers – all supporting you in your quest to write a novel that will appeal to literary agents and publishers. Our courses are selective, so only the 15 strongest applicants will be awarded places. This sounds harsh – but I firmly believe writers are far more likely to improve and hone their skills when working at a high level in a group of equally talented authors. You can also expect to have a two-hour session with a literary agent or publisher, and be able to ask all the questions you’ve ever wanted about the publishing industry, from how big is an author’s advance (how long is a piece of string?) to what are agents and publishers looking for (original voices, great stories).
(This sounds great.)
What about established authors – do you have anything for them too?
Established authors are welcome to apply for the Write Here… courses – though, by the very nature of their jobs, they usually already have access to readers they can trust to make comments on their work and improve it. Away from the writing courses, we also offer a range of editorial services for novelists – from full editorial reports to help with preparing a synopsis, covering letter and first few chapters to submit to literary agents.
(I often think the hard work can begin after the initial first draft is written actually Rufus.)
Regular Linda’s Book Bag readers know that I keep saying I WILL finish my novel and almost everyone who doesn’t write tells me anyone can do it so I must be able to. We all have a book in us. What would your response be to that idea?
I agree that everyone’s got a book in them – in that we all have at least one great story to tell. What everyone hasn’t got in them, though, is the self-discipline and work ethic required to write something as huge as a novel.
(Ah! I think you might just have uncovered my own problem!)
And, even after years of working in the publishing industry, I’m still in awe of anyone who’s able to take that challenge on and complete it. Most aspiring authors are writing on their own, with perhaps only their partner or best friend to share their work with and bounce ideas off. And that’s why finding a group of like-minded writers to encourage you and get you through those times when you think everything you’ve written is terrible and you’re just going to give up is absolutely essential.
What top three tips would you give to new or aspiring writers?
My first tip would be to keep on reading. Don’t stop devouring the work of other writers just because you’re trying to concentrate on your own book, for nothing will inspire you more than appreciating others’ craft.
My second would be to write every day – and find a time and space in which you can do that.
My third tip? Don’t get disheartened. You’re in it for the long-haul, so there are going to be times when you lose belief in yourself and the story you’re telling. Just step away from it for a while, let yourself get a bit of perspective and work out new ways to approach the problem you’ve encountered.
(That sounds excellent, and achievable, advice Rufus.)
Is there anything else we should know about Write Here…?
Our first round of courses are beginning this September – and they’ll be taking place in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and my hometown Sheffield. So if you live anywhere near those wonderful cities, please do check us out. I should say, too, that the authors who are teaching the courses are absolutely brilliant. I wish I could be at all of the sessions, just to soak up their writing wisdom.
(Nottingham is closest to me…)
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Rufus. I think Write Here… sounds a really interesting approach.
No problem. It’s been fun. Thanks for having me.
About Rufus Purdy
Rufus began his career dressed as a giant banana (complete with yellow tights), handing flyers to tourists outside Covent Garden tube station. Desperate for a job that would give him some dignity, he went into publishing and – after a spell working on financial directories – he landed the position of Junior Sub-editor at Harper’s Bazaar. A spell at Condé Nast Traveller reawakened a love of seeing the world and, after an enjoyable spell as a sub-editor-for-hire, he became Associate Editor at Psychologies, where he combined the Chief Sub’s role with that of Travel Editor. As editor of Family Traveller magazine, he was shortlisted for Launch of the Year at the 2014 BSME Awards.
You can follow Rufus on Twitter @RufusPurdy.
About Write Here…
Write Here… offers high-quality, affordable creative writing courses in cities throughout the UK and also offers a range of editorial services for novelists – both published and yet-to-be-published.