Linden Hibbert has been telling stories all her life but only had the time and the confidence to share them with others after having her children. In 2016 she took the leap and applied for the Escalator Talent Development Scheme; she was successful, and was paired with Jhalak Prize for Fiction judge and published writer Yvvette Edwards for a nine month period of mentoring. Below, she describes how the experience has demystified the publishing process and helped her to overcome the challenges of being a developing writer.

Escalator is the antidote to so many of the hardest parts of being a developing writer, from isolation, to lack of support, from the feeling of going round in circles, to the many hard knocks and rejection that it takes to get published.

Right from the moment of learning my mentor, Yvvette, had picked me, the sense of validation started. She believed in my voice as a writer and because of Yvvette I now believe in my voice too. Her support has been steady and consistent; she helped me develop faith in my skills and instincts, picked me up when self-doubt came calling and helped me become more resilient. I knew I could talk candidly to her in a way I would have been anxious to do in a commercial situation and in her turn, she has been amazingly vested in my journey as a writer. I feel I have developed a much greater understanding of my voice, my bad habits as well as my strengths, and know what I need to work on in the future.

My months on Escalator have been feverishly productive. The retreat in particular gave me time to write and the regular mentoring sessions, a reason to write. There was always something to aim towards which meant I kept focused. Over nine months I got a great deal down on paper that would otherwise have been jammed in my head: I finished one novel, The Striking Miner’s Lad and started a second, Who is Lydia Laurence? I feel exhausted but proud too and still so motivated!

an amazing and unexpected gift

We met many wonderful writers, both through the mentoring process and through the workshops in which we participated. The goodwill that Escalator brings out of the industry is amazing. Everyone we met spoke openly about the journey we are all on and as a result of their honesty we were given a realistic picture of what it means to be a writer in this age of social media and free content: the likely financial rewards of getting a contract, how royalties work, what a contract involves, the editing process, what an agent should provide. I feel this has helped demystify the publishing process for me and made the players within more human.

Best of all I have met a cohort of creative and generous individuals at the Writers’ Centre Norwich and in the nine other Escalatees whose combined life experience and talent has been an amazing and unexpected gift.

So much feels competitive out there in the real world and Escalator has been the opposite of that, human, compassionate and above all generous.

I envy anyone about to start down this journey. Make the most of it. It’s incredible!

Read an extraxt from Linden’s novel, Who is Lydia Laurence?

About Linden

Linden has been telling stories all her life but only had the time and the confidence to share them with others after having her children. She has worked in advertising prior to this leap and has recently moved from London to Suffolk.