We had a talk today from poet Geoff Hattersley, the focus of this talk was mainly his career as a writer; how he got to where he is, the ups and the downs. So this blog post will mainly be a post dedicated to Geoff Hattersley!
Geoff Hattersley was born in South Yorkshire in 1956 and he started off by telling us that he never knew that he wanted to be a writer, but he spent his whole childhood writing – from the moment he could hold a pen he was writing and telling stories. He spent most of his time writing short stories, and when he was a teenager he filled two exercise books with “what could only be described as a novella” (Hattersely, 2014)
Geoff explained that he didn’t leave school with many qualifications, but with 3 GCO-Levels to his name he never stopped writing. He eventually went to Sheffield University to study English Literature, and was asked to run English workshops for Kirklees Metropolitan Council. Finally, in 1987 he got his big break – Geoff had his first book published. After he was published he was asked to do book reviews, but he expressed that he didn’t like that kind of writing so he decided to set up his won small press an “underground enterprise”. This small press ended up being very popular, and Geoff was being sent more material than he could ever get through, they ended up publishing 30 magazines, and 24 books but the workload eventually took it’s toll so he stopped the press completely.
Geoff told us that if you wanted to be a writer you had to expect the following:
- You must be diverse – to be successful you must be able to cover a range of things even if it doesn’t necessarily interest you
- Don’t expect to make millions – becoming a successful writer is VERY hard work, you shouldn’t become a writer because you think it’s a good way to make millions. J.K. Rowling and E.L. James were very lucky to have the success that they have.
- Expect lots of work – If you want to be successful and be published then you have to put a lot of work into what you produce, and even if you have to get a job to afford to live whilst you’re writing Geoff told us to “always treat writing as your main job, even if it isn’t”
Surely there must be positives about being a writer?!
Yes, there are. Geoff told us that being in the field of writing provides you with some of the best positives, and highs that you would struggle to find in other fields, some examples of this are:
- The first time you see your work in print
- The first time you get published
- Having your published book go on sale, and realising that someone is going to buy and enjoy what you have worked hard to produce
- Opening the paper and reading a (hopefully) raving review of your book/poem etc
- Getting published in an anthology along side some great names
- And finally, holding readings, going to festivals and signing books till your arm falls off.
If you’re a materialistic person then maybe a career in writing isn’t the one for you because it is definitely a tough field and most writers struggle to get by, but the pay off is worth if and it definitely keeps you on your feet.