Posted By: Rowan Whiteside, 12 September 2012
Belona Greenwood has very kindly written us a blog about her experience of being an Escalator winner and how it changed her writing career:
I don’t know if it is a writer thing but I find it very uncomfortable when I tot up the passage of time. I have always managed to smudge the edges of dates, forget the anniversaries of things, lose my way in any calculation of when and where so it comes as a shock to realise that two years have passed since my year of mentoring on the Escalator scheme.
My still-ongoing book is a creative non-fiction book, Shadow Madonnas, an Exploration of the Map of Spite; a history of unmarried mothers. My Escalator year was invaluable but nipped past at quite a rate. The danger is that research flowers into procrastination. Personally too, in those two years I struggled with writing my own narrative as a single mother as the spine on which to hang the histories of others. I have now turned the book on its head and I am writing it as a lively account of the lives of others. I watch very carefully the new months that pass and impose new deadlines on myself. It is a relief that although some books do get written very quickly with knife-sharp focus, some take years to complete. It is a relief that I am not alone in having to answer the question, ‘is it finished yet?’ and say almost sheepishly, ‘No, not yet, ‘I’m still writing it.’ After a while nobody asks anymore and in a perverse kind of way there is a freedom in that sideline state and the only pressure on its long walk to the final full stop is my own.
For those of us of an impatient nature, I think it takes a particular ability not to panic but to hold back and keep faith with a long project. It is easy to feel scared as those years creep past and a book is still not ready to slip into the current of words streaming into publication. Sometimes, I do panic, other times I add up everything else I am doing and don’t give myself such a hard time.
Since my Escalator year I have been lucky to earn my living with words in one form or another. I have written a non-fiction How To Write A Play book, thousands of words on features, plays and a children’s novel for 9-12 year olds, The Circus of Miracles, finally edited and broken into chapters. Writing features for the excellent, independent Norwich Magazine and for a less excellent lifestyle magazine plus a monthly column with an Italian Magazine, has been like a flexing of writing muscle, a daily workout. Writing plays is a passion and my world is happily full of words. The trick I am still trying to work out is how to make sure it is also full of the time I need for the diet of writing that has a deadline measured in years rather than weeks or days.
The Writers’ Centre is a great support for emerging writers because it doesn’t measure your work only on short timescales. What a relief! It keeps faith in all the chrysalids it has seen start the transformative process into professional writers.
Our new Escalator Literature Writing Competition will be opening soon. Keep an eye on the Escalator homepage and sign up for our e-newsletter to be the first in the know.