Question: What is your greatest difficulty when writing fiction, and how do you overcome it?
Authenticity has always been a struggle for writers, but in light of the growing ‘cancel culture,’ it is a bigger problem in 2019 than it has ever been. In my case, I have run into issues when writing characters different from myself, in particular with race and sexuality. My first novel is award-winning, but remains unpublished as it centres on race relations in the United States and I, being a British white woman, cannot achieve the level of authenticity required by today’s market.
I am by no means complaining. In fact, my rejections from this novel led to me penning my second, which has been an equally enjoyable experience. I crave an industry that promotes writers of underrepresent demographics. I desire a world which allows the voices of every race and background to speak from a sincere and genuine place. For these reasons, I accept that my novel may have been advocating equality, but I wasn’t the right author for the job.
This remains my greatest struggle in writing fiction. Whenever I’m writing I ask myself now: am I the best person to tell this story? If the answer is ‘yes,’ I know I’m onto something important (these pieces have been my most successful too). I still incorporate a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures in my work, but I prioritise authenticity and make sure that I’m self-aware. I don’t believe there is a correct answer here, but this has been my way forward after letting go of my first novel.
About Briony Collins
I am a writer based in North Wales and attending Bangor University where I am studying English Literature and Creative Writing. Previously, I won the 2016 Exeter Novel Prize, was longlisted in the 2016 National Poetry Competition, and was the recipient of the 2018 Under 25s Literature Wales Bursary. I have been tutored by Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke. Currently, I am writing my second novel, Ambergris, and finalising my poetry pamphlet, Once More. Poems from Once More are set to be published in Agenda Magazine’s broadsheet, and at the launches of Creative Bangor and Black Bough. I am represented by Broo Doherty of DHH Literary Agency.
More information about me can be found on my website: https://brionycollins96.wixsite.com/briony-collins