Opinion: Melissa Todd – The irony of telling other writers what to do!


I’m the managing editor of Thanet Writers now! Genuinely no idea how that happened. I’m the lucky kind of devil I used to despise. I suspect they’ve made a mistake asking me. Surely there must be many other Melissas out there more suitably qualified – indeed, probably any of the other Melissas in Thanet  – but having seen my glee, they’re too polite to admit it.

It’s quite like a proper job. I think. I’ve never had a proper job before, so I can’t be sure. You have to fill in forms, keep to deadlines, tell people what to do, and no, the irony of telling people what to do when I’ve no idea what’s going on myself has not been lost upon my lucky devil self.

I tell writers to write stuff, for a certain date, and by and large, so far, they do. Thanet Writers publish something – an essay, review, short story, poem, feature, all composed by local talent – every single day, 365 days of each year. Isn’t that smashing? They pay, too. So far they’ve published over 1000 pieces of writing, a milestone passed in 2019, which is very cool and admirable indeed.

Being director of Hags Ahoy theatre company I am accustomed to managing a troupe of actors, so I reckon, in truth, I can probably manage anyone. Writers are emotional creatures, but actors are emotional and noisy, which is much, much worse. Writers have breakdowns in their bedrooms; actors have breakdowns in your face. Maybe there was method in the editor’s mad recruitment policy after all.

Writing is fun and cathartic. I always thought it couldn’t be for me, because I’m not from the right school or background, but turns out I’m a suspicious idiot. Our own Matthew Munson suggested last year I submit something: I found an ancient short story languishing on my laptop, and despite my gloomy conviction that submitting it would only mean heartache, I let him persuade me, and blow me if they didn’t publish it, and I cried with joy for two days straight.

Now look at me, bossing other writers about. I don’t usually go in for motivational guff, but honestly, if I can be so blessed by fortune I suspect any good thing could well happen to you, if you only open up to the prospect.

So please consider submitting your work to us. If you have even the most tangential relationship to Thanet, we promise to consider you. We always need heaps of scribblings, from every kind of scribbler. Get on it. Do it now. https://thanetwriters.com

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