Friday, 5 September 2008

So when did writing stories suddenly become cool?!

Kevin Brooks, Julie Bertagna, Keith Gray and Anthony McGowan - cool?

I decided I wanted to become a writer when I was 14. Not that I told anyone. I didn’t dare. I didn’t want the hassle from my mates who thought I was a weird enough already.

I got my first book published ten years later, but there were still plenty of people who thought spending all day writing stories was kind of an odd thing to do. My parents wanted me to be something sensible, like a teacher. My girlfriend wanted me to be something normal, like an accountant. People seemed to believe writers were strange, geeky, nerdish creatures who shouldn’t be allowed out in public.

But not anymore...

I’ve really enjoyed the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year. It’s always a great event, but this year I was taking part as Scottish Book Trust’s ‘Virtual Writer in Residence’ and spent most of my time promoting the short story writing competition on the SBT website. I admit I was a bit worried it might be a tough sell - could I persuade a load of teenagers to do something as uncool as writing stories? So it was a shock and a surprise to meet so many young people who wanted to get involved, who were full of ideas, bursting with enthusiasm, and even wanted to be writers themselves.

And I reckon it’s because books and writers have changed since I was first published, definitely since I was at school. At the book festival I met Anthony McGowan, who’s sharp and funny; Julie Bertagna who’s gorgeous and clever; and Kevin Brooks who’s so laid-back cars can drive over him without scraping his nose. Three writers who are writing the kind of books people really, really want to read.

I guess it’s no wonder writing has suddenly become cool. It’s undoubtedly thanks to all of the inspirational authors around today, and the brilliant books they keep writing. So if the thought of becoming a teacher sends shivers up your spine, and being an accountant sounds like less fun than a week’s holiday in a nunnery, come and join us. Write a story, send it in. I’m looking forward to discovering all of the new, clever, funny, cool writers out there.

Keith Gray
Scottish Book Trust's Virtual Writer in Residence, author of Ostrich Boys and many more.

Need some inspiration before you enter our creative writing competition? Watch Keith's Creative Writing Masterclass (Part 1):

There's more vids where this one came from - right here.

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