I felt lucky to have managed to book Rosie Garland and that feeling only increased when I read her latest novel 'The Night Brother'. Originally I'd booked Rosie to do the Q&A in person at one of our writing retreats and so was delighted when she agreed to do this online with me and twenty emerging LGBTQ+ writers from all over the UK.
Rosie talked frankly and openly about her writing journey and was refreshingly clear in her answers to the many questions that came her way. I'm sure that each writer there took something different from the experience. For me, it was how she stuck at her writing, developing bit by bit, over twenty years, before achieving that first publication. There were four unpublished novels before her Mslexia prize-winning entry 'The Palce of Curiosities'. In amongst that, Rosie wrote and performed poetry and finding support and encouragement from a community of writers on that circuit and elsewhere in the city and beyond.
I liked the way she talked us us through her formative moments as well as the issues and questions that she faced along the way. And now my memory jumbles into tales of her grandmas' stories, the importance of public libraries, writing as a way to develop other worlds where things happen differently, a decision not to write autobiographically in her novels, writing her own queer truths in her own way - what she called getting that little self-editor off your shoulder, setting her stories in Manchester because not enough are, writing longhand and freely then editing later as a seperate exercise.
There was so much shared and in less than an hour - and it's one of the ways we learn I think. Listening to peoples experiences, identifying helpful little markeres as we try to visualise ourselves moving forward and developing as writers.