Inkwell Success Stories
Hot Cross Mum Finds Success with Inkwell
From being made redundant to star blogger and freelance journalist, Hazel Gaynor explains how The Inkwell Group have helped her pursue her writing dreams.
I first attended an Inkwell Writing Workshop in February 2009. After being made redundant, I was exploring options for developing a new career and the ‘Writing for the Web’ workshop inspired me to set up my parenting blog ‘Hot Cross Mum’ and also resulted in me starting a freelance career, writing for newspapers, magazines and websites in Ireland and the UK.
In addition to my paid writing, I still wanted to write a novel and I developed a few ideas based around my blog. Vanessa at Inkwell was a fantastic help at this stage, putting me in touch with an agent and offering advice and support and, most importantly encouragement at every stage.
Over the first twelve months my blog went on to win several awards and I also appeared on a TV3 ‘Morning Ireland’ feature on blogging and in a Sunday Times Magazine feature on women who had been made redundant from their professional careers.
Following interest from a publisher, I went on to develop my blog into a non-fiction/memoir style book which successfully made it through several stages of the commissioning process with Little Brown books in the UK but, disappointingly, didn’t receive a publishing deal. The process of preparing a manuscript for submission to an Editor, the agonising waiting game and the determination to pick myself up and carry on writing was, nevertheless, an important experience and one which definitely showed me how much I loved writing and wanted to succeed in my dream to become a published author. Since then, I decided to self-publish the book as an ebook ‘Hot Cross Mum – bitesize slices of motherhood’ which is now available on the Amazon Kindle store and other websites.
Still keen to explore my fiction writing further, I attended another Inkwell workshop ‘Women’s Fiction’ with the very inspiring Sinead Moriarty and Monica McInerney and where I also first met Maria Duffy. I started work on a new novel during the summer of 2010 which I mostly completed during NaNoWriMo in November 2010. After receiving feedback and advice from an agent early in 2011, I developed that novel further and then went on to write a novel based on a true story of Irish immigrants on the Titanic which flowed out of me in three months! In the process of writing these fiction novels, I was delighted to be signed by agent Sheila Crowley of Curtis Brown. Both novels have since been submitted to publishers but, while receiving very positive and encouraging feedback, have not yet resulted in a publishing deal.
In the meantime, I have continued to write my ‘Hot Cross Mum’ blog and in conjunction with Vanessa and Inkwell, now run online and one day workshops on blogging, freelancing and developing a writing career. I still contribute features regularly to press and parenting websites and have also spoken on several radio shows.
In May 2011, I started writing a book review blog for hellomagazine.com which is titled ‘Off the Shelf’. This has been a really great way to increase my own profile and has also led to me reading some wonderful books and interviewing some very respected and highly regarded authors – some of whom have gone on to become personal friends.
From delivering inspiring workshops and putting me in touch with some excellent resources and contacts, Inkwell really started and supported my writing career. I am now proud to call myself a writer and although the road to publication is, at times, a bumpy, frustrating, lonely one – for which a very large amount of self-belief and perseverance is required – it is one I am delighted to be travelling and wouldn’t get off for the world!
I am now working on a new fiction novel which I hope may be a case of ‘third time lucky’! You can follow my progress on my new writing blog ‘Carry On Writing’ and on Twitter @hotcrossmum.