by Jacquelyn Guderley, Salomé Founder.
So what am I supposed to do with this? I asked.
Get it published, she said.
I'm part of the Write Like A Grrrl (WLAG) community. I can't tell you how wonderful and supportive this community is. I thought I was just joining a writing course back in November 2015, but it turned out to be so much more.
The teacher of the course, Kerry Ryan, is a force to behold. Strong Scottish accent, hair that shifts from dark brown to light blonde, I have learnt more from her about writing - and about myself - than I ever hoped to.
To finish the WLAG course, Kerry and I were going through the piece of fiction I'd written during the six weeks. I'd never written fiction before, always thought I'd lacked the imagination for it (at primary school, when asked to write a fiction story, I was so bereft of ideas of my own that I had to copy the last book I'd read) - in fact I still sort of think I lack the imagination for it most of the time. But anyway. In the end, I settled on a dystopian science fiction piece. I'm not sure how. I don't read science fiction. In fact, I used to laugh at the absolute dross that my Dad used to read on holiday about aliens and alternative worlds. Though I always had a penchant for Disc World. A world balanced on the back of four elephants who stood on a massive turtle? Pure genius!
We had come to the end of our session, Kerry admirably battling her way through me impressive - though lessening as the session progressed - trademark Jacs stubbornness TM. "Jacs, why do you always argue with me? You're paying me because I know my shit".
A timely reminder.
So then I asked "ok, so what am I supposed to do with the start to this weird dystopian science fiction piece I've started?
"Get it published, of course".
Oh how I laughed. Laughed right at Kerry, bless the poor woman, after everything she'd been through with me that session.
"This piece of shit?" I near on bellowed.
"It's not shit. Get it published".
By the time I was walking back to Kings Cross St. Pancras, I was smiling. I believed that maybe I could try and get it published. That I was a writer after all. That my writing was good. Better than good. Good enough for a publisher.
I've read back on my dystopian fiction. It's shit. The characters are underdeveloped, it meanders painfully and my goodness does it state the bleeding obvious.
But no matter. That day I felt like a writer and one that was worth her salt. I believed in the piece I'd written and most importantly I believed in me. Just through the power of a few carefully timed words by Kerry. It didn't matter that the piece would never get published, at least not in the state it was in.
Kerry gave me the self-belief I needed. She has continued to give me that special gift, particularly when I haven't been able to find it in myself, ever since. On days when I was losing all faith in my blog (this was my main output for my writing and what got me into writing regularly), she popped her head up and said something to the effect of "if you don't write this blog, you'll have me to answer to". A scary proposition. I mentioned she's Scottish, right? (Love all you Scots out there really). What's more, she's told me I'm a great writer. And remember, she knows her shit.
The thing is, we don't all have a Kerry. We don't all have someone who so effortlessly makes us believe in ourselves. We don't have someone who can armour us when taking on that patriarchal institution that is the publishing industry. Kerry has given me and so many other WLAGs the technical writing skills and the confidence to go out there, clutching our words to our chests as though they were babies, tentatively stepping into the sight of publishers and gradually holding our babies out for them to see.
So, we don't all have a Kerry. And most of us don't know, as emerging female writer, who will accept our work. So who will make sure the women out there, particularly those who have never been published before, are getting published? That they have the power with themselves to say "actually, I am a good writer, and I will get this baby published".
Salomé will. I will.
I and my readers will pour over your words and find the most beautiful and powerful of writing to publish. We will gush over your sentences, paragraphs, lines and stanzas as we feedback to each other during the decision session. And for those of you who need a little bit more refining of your work before it makes it in, we will send a whole page of thoughts on what was strong, what could do with some improvement and advice for the future. There really is nothing to lose, only to gain, from submitting to Salomé.
It's what makes us different, it's what makes us great.
Whoever you are, whatever you write, remember that #SalomeLovesYou. She is here, arms open, to not just tell you that your work is good enough to be published, but to show you. Because she'll publish it herself.
Submit a piece and see for yourself - step inside Salomé's world.
Jacquelyn Guderley is the Founder of Salomé, this magazine you see before you. She's an ardent social entrepreneur, this being her second business (she cofounded Stemettes, an award-winning social enterprise, inspiring girls into STEM careers). In her spare time she likes to keep as busy as a beaver i.e. very busy.