The End of an Era

And so we come to the last day of the contract with the Royal Literary Fund. To be fair, it’s not quite the last day, but it’s my last day in the RLF office in Exeter University. The rest of my time will be at home, collating all the data for the RLF for their own records.

RLF? Sorry, for those who are new to my blog, I should explain.

The Royal Literary Fund is a wonderful organisation which has two functions: one is to support authors who are struggling to survive – sadly a growing breed now since the end of the Net Book Agreement and the advent of ebooks. Many people are enthusiastically putting authors out of business. Every free ebook acquired helps kill off another author’s career. For many, free reading is considered to be a civil right, in the same way that they consider all  films to view should be free. Until someone has figured out a way to support writers and writing in this brave new world, institutions like the RLF will be ever more essential, giving money to writers who cannot support their families.

Exeter University. I'm going to miss the joint!

Exeter University. I’m going to miss the joint!

However, the RLF is also keen to promote good writing. So in a perfect marriage of convenience and harmony, the RLF has associated itself with universities up and down the country. It hires authors to go to these universities for two years, purely to provide one-on-one tuition to students who want help with their writing.

Some want to learn how to make their writing more clear. Some feel a need to make their work read more “academically” and less colloquial. Others have a problem framing an argument, and have no idea how to follow a logical sequence of steps to form an essay on a topic. Others can’t decide on the jump-off point for their dissertations or theses. This is where the RLF comes in, bringing a little logic and experience to the art of writing.

It has been hard work. The RLF has done well to ensure that the students are aware of their services, and in two years at Exeter, I have average seven to eight students per day. During the run-up to exams, to have sometimes ten students, all from different disciplines, from difference years, and all with work varying from simple critiques to detailed Doctoral works, has been challenging but enormously rewarding.

Yes, it’s odd to think that my two years here is now over, and a little sad. However, it means I can concentrate on my own writing again, and that is great!

The wonderful Evesham Hotel

The wonderful Evesham Hotel

This last week has been busy. I’ve been up to Evesham and given a talk at the Aspara Writing Festival, which is a new literary festival aimed at those who want to learn how to write more effectively. It was enormous fun, and I’ve written a new speech, which I can incorporate into an hour long event. I’m calling it “Twenty Questions I Wish I’d Considered Before I Started Writing”, and it ranges over the life of a writer by taking in a series of anecdotes and themes. It’s all good fun, and the audience last week appreciated it, so I’m looking forward to taking this one out with me and putting it to other audiences in the future.

Other work continues. The video channel with YouTube is going from strength to strength, and tonight I have to record the latest so that my slave-driving daughter can edit it and put it up on Thursday. In the meantime I have to prepare for the Bloody Words festival in Toronto. In spare moments, I’m trying to paint some more watercolours, and I’ve acquired a sheet of copper which I’ll be attempting to form into a new paintbox. A friend who is competent at bending metal is coming to help me with that project!

So, my last day at Uni today, tomorrow will be the last day writing reports for the RLF, and then it’s back to the 1300s and writing the rest of the book on the Hundred Years War and siege of Calais. All good, clean, fun!

Thanks for reading, and have a great week!

2 Responses to “The End of an Era”
  1. Old Trooper says:

    Excellent update on your ‘doings’ with the RLF! I pray that you have good health and strength to proceed with your writing and that readers take the time to pass on how much they enjoy your titles. Readers need to share with their friends as publishers are not putting much into PR.

    BTW, I received the e-mail version of “writerlywitterings” and once again it contained odd bits, e.g. “ER=A” and no photographs. I hit the reply icon this time in my e-mail and it took the original garbled e-mail and everything was corrected and the photos appeared. I just wanted to let you know about that quirk.


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