Expat Writer in Valencia: Nick Snelling
Despite his misgivings, writer Nick Snelling advises budding writers to get involved with the internet as it allows them to go far beyond conventional publishing.
Name: Nick Snelling
Titles of book: How to Move Safely to Spain, How to Sell your Spanish Property in a Crisis, Taking the Heat, Home Ownership and Work in Spain - A Bootstrapper's Secrets to Success (coming soon)
Why did you start writing?
I have always had an interest in literature and I love the English language with its seemingly endless capacity for elegant expressions.
Certainly, I revel in the precision of words and I have always delighted in great writing. So, I suppose that it was inevitable that I would be drawn to write - a task that combines deep frustration with moments of real fulfilment. The creative process, the turning of a blank piece of paper into something of value, is almost always compelling.
What topics do you write about?
Like most writers, I have to write for a market and the market easiest to penetrate is one based around factual works. So, most of my 'commercially' targeted writing tends to be factual and, now, about Spain, where I live permanently. In fact, Spain is a rich hunting ground for a writer, given the controversial nature of its property market and its complicated and extraordinary culture.
What do you like most about writing?
I like the challenge of creating something new, different and unique - something that is entirely mine. Writing is nothing if not egotistical!
Writing is a lonely occupation, do you find that difficult?
No, in fact, it is one of the benefits of writing - when things are going well! However, when writing becomes difficult then it can be a very lonely and miserable business.
How has living abroad influenced your work as a writer?
I do not think it has particularly - apart from the huge bonus of having television effectively removed from my life. Spanish TV is pretty poor and so living in Spain has meant that we watch it rarely. This means that previously 'wasted' time is much better spent writing or reading.
Are writing classes/ groups easy to find in the country you live in?
I have never looked for them but I imagine they are in Spain, as this country has an excellent expatriate network that provides pretty much everything you could possibly want. I think classes are probably a good idea, so long as they are not too introspective and analytical. A lot of writing is about honing down an awkward craft rather than intellectualising about it too much!
Which writers have inspired you the most?
I think anyone who reads extensively would have trouble answering that question. Every decent writer that I have read has inspired me, in some way or other, from Herodotus to Tom Wolfe - with the latter (at his best) being a thrilling writer of factual matters.
What hurdles did you encounter when you were trying to gain more recognition as a writer?
Like every writer, I am constantly battling for recognition. Certainly (and infuriatingly!), more of my time tends to be spent in self-promotion (which I loathe) than actual writing. Meanwhile, the ‘hurdle’ of being a writer has, undoubtedly, become more difficult with the present economic crisis. This has probably changed the face of writing forever, with the internet having made conventional magazines and newspapers almost redundant. Sadly, this may also be true of conventional book publishing, which faces an uncertain time ahead.
The future, unfortunately, lies in the internet with its short attention spans and unfiltered 'copy'. This will make it harder for good writers to get their works recognised - within the 'white noise' of everything else on the internet.
How do you deal with rejection or harsh comments?
Despite my best efforts, I tend to take them personally! This should not be too surprising, as everything one does as a writer is personal. After all, writing is not about being part of a co-operative - each work is individual, with the responsibility for its quality and workability being the writer's. So, there is nowhere to hide from criticism.
Being rejected is always hard to accept, despite the fact that many rejections have nothing to do with the quality of the work concerned. In fact, it is vital to appreciate that many rejections are simply about lack of budget or the subject matter not being in 'fashion' at the time - as opposed to being an outright condemnation of some writing.
What advice would you give to budding writers?
Keep writing - regardless of rejections and criticism. Equally, keep honing down what you write - recognising that writing is a 'craft' that needs to be practised and improved constantly. Meanwhile, always write for a defined market. In other words know exactly who your market is and what they want before you start writing something.
Critically, never send anything out without first having 'rested' on it for a few days. It is amazing how often a work needs correcting or can be improved greatly when looked at in the cold light of another day!
Finally, get involved with the internet. Despite my 'creative' misgivings, it is the future and has the benefit of allowing writers potential autonomy far beyond what has been (and is) possible within conventional publishing.
How do you see your future as a writer?
It would be terrific to have a big success with a work of fiction. I have two books 'ready to go' - both of which I am absolutely passionate about! However, I have absolutely no idea (at the moment) how to get them published conventionally (that ego thing again!)...
In this new series of Expatica interviews, we invite published expat writers to share their thoughts on how living abroad has affected their writing career. If you would like to fill out a questionnaire too, send an email with 'Please send me an Expat Writer in Spain questionnaire' in the subject line to editorES@expatica.com.
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