Twitter and Mrs Gaskell

. So my stories came back this week, with a polite rejection. I’m not that shocked, I’m one of those people who always prepare for a ‘no’, so I can be pleasantly surprised when I get a ‘yes’ What was nice though, was I announced by rejection on Twitter, how many wonderful people immediately leaped in with all sorts of comforting supporting tweets. It was lovely.

A few years ago, I was writing in a void, unsure where to go for help, what to do with my stories, even how to lay out a basic manuscript. Now, thanks to the joys of social networking, I can chat with writers all day long, get ideas and inspiration, get help over a stuck bit, or even just get support when I get a ‘no’. I have to say, coming out as a writer online has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s opened a up a whole community of friendly, helpful, supportive people I’d never have known otherwise, and I would like to give each and everyone of them and you a great big hug, and thanks.

On support – I finally read Mrs Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Bronte (I know – not only a biography of my favourite writer but a great Victorian classic and I’d never read it before – I’m as shocked as you are). Following that I read Jenny Uglow’s biography of Mrs Gaskell and what was fascinating was how Charlotte, and Mrs Gaskell and George Eliot all chatted back and forth with each other, not just about writing, but how to be a female writer, how to find the time to fit it in, whether it was better to live alone or with family, how female style expressed itself, the differences between male and female writers. They condoled each other for bad reviews and pointed the way to good reviews, and compared publishers and editors and magazines. I knew all these great Victorian female writers of course, but I ever knew how they formed, through their letters (George Eliot and Mrs Gaskell never met in person) a supportive, tight-knit close network. Thackeray and Dickens and Wilkie Collins are there too, of course, but they seem to be on the outside, looking in, part of a another, different network. There are reams and reams of letters (Mrs Gaskell seems to be at the centre of this little circle, and she wrote a LOT of letters) discussing style and plots and characters, and arranging publications so they don’t clash with each other. (Charlotte Bronte held back the publication of Villette so it wouldn’t be clash with Mrs Gaskell’s Ruth).

It seems us writers, despite the image of us being lonely, introvert people, scribbling away in an attic and never speaking to anyone else, are actually quite a decent bunch of friendly supportive people, gathering together to keep ourselves going.


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