One of the questions authors are asked most often is, “How do you have time to write?” And the answer is always a variation of, well, you make time. You wake up early. You stay up late. You apply for scholarships at residencies. You cram in writing sessions at lunch. Or, in the case of Lauren E. James, you apply for a grant – and win that grant.
James is the author of the upcoming YA novel The Next Together, a reincarnation love story releasing this September from Walker Books UK. She penned the novel during college – she graduated in 2014 with a Masters degree in Natural Sciences – and is currently on a gap year to finish edits while she writes new things. She told herself she’d have to find a “real” job at the end of the year if she couldn’t make money living as a writer.
However, the Arts Council England awarded her an Arts Grant. The Arts Council is funded by the National Lottery in the U.K., and awarded James enough money for her to write at least three new YA novels.
“Simply put, I wouldn’t be able to write full time without this grant,” exclaimed James. “It’s a huge financial support that will let me focus solely on writing at a very important stage in my career. The fact that it’s publicly funded means I’m being trusted to contribute culturally to England’s art. Which is a lot of pressure!”
Each of the three YA novels James hopes to pen with the grant’s help are radically different.
“There will be historical romances, time travel, space voyages and ghosts – and most importantly, a lot of diversity! I try to do things with my writing beyond telling a story. The right book can shape a childhood, so I try to make sure I live up to that responsibility.”
James knows she’s one of the lucky ones – but she wants aspiring to experience the same luck.
“Research the resources available to you. I had no idea funding for authors was possible until another UK author mentioned it on twitter. Charities and arts organisations are around, but don’t necessarily publicise their funding. Be shameless and ask, because you won’t lose anything by trying,” said James.
And for those who might worry that they’re not good enough?
“Be aware of what is unique and worthwhile about your writing, and never shut up about it! If you can’t tell people why they should support you, nobody else will.”