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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

My old thoughts…

I recently come across this old ‘blog’ I wrote on one of my old web-sites.
I did this pretty much before I’d ever heard of blogs and blog sites, and think it’s interesting to see what I thought way-back when…

I’m thinking of re-doing this old site, making it into a home site come DIY blog!

You may, or may not find this ‘blog’ interesting but here it is anyway...

I wanna be a paperback writer

The Beatles sung this way back in 1966. But what does it really take to be a paperback writer?
So how much talent, work, and above all perseverance is really required? Reading has always been part of my life and, probably like many other people, I’ve sometimes read something and thought ‘I can do better than that,’ but could I, could I really? Well I have tried, and quickly came to the conclusion that most people, myself very much included, don’t have as much raw talent as they think, which takes me nicely to work and perseverance. Not the two most fun words in the English language, but pretty much necessary to and degree of success in anything, and writing definitely isn’t any exception.
There are many ‘how to’ guides available both in print and on the internet, and this most definitely isn’t one of them. I’ve had a modicum of success in selling my work, but certainly don’t pretend to be qualified enough to tell anyone how to do anything. What a lot of people don’t realise is that you have to sell-yourself to get noticed, something most of us find uncomfortable at best, and often find off-putting in others. But don’t worry, that won’t be a problem until you have some saleable writing. And before you get that you should be prepared to put a lot of time and effort into learning the ‘craft’ of writing, yes good writing is a skill more than an art. Like all skills it takes learning and practice to become good at it, and perhaps someday you may even master it. All I know is I’ve been attempting to learn the skill for years, and have just enough understanding to know I’m nowhere near a master.
Am I being negative? Not at all, I love writing. I love learning, and that’s the thing. If you love it you will do it, and you will want to do it well. If you want published ‘doing it well’ means following the established rules, for the most part anyway, and putting up with a lot of rejection, something else most people aren’t naturally gracious at.
So how do you get the skill? As I said, I’m not qualified to preach, but I’d say read lots of books, especially ones like the type of thing you want to write. Also read the how-to books and websites. I my opinion there’s a lot of filler, not to mention pomposity, out there, but there are is also a lot of invaluable advice and guidance.
Write! Even if you know it’s rubbish. Write, re-write, then do it all again, and keep doing it. You will get better. Once you feel ready, submit your work to on-line or real-life writing groups for critique. I’ve recently found the Critique Circle site and found it friendly and useful. I tried a few writers sites and for me this seems one of the best, it also makes you critique other peoples work in order to post your own, and your writing will only improve from ding this. You will benefit from other peoples frank opinions and disassemble of your story. Again be prepared for criticism, a hundred ‘I liked it’ comments can’t hold a candle to a good, properly formatted, tear-it-to-threads constructive critique. This is a good thing, honest, even though it won’t feel like it as first.
Personally I’d recommend writing some short stories, and trying to get them published before attempting a Novel. I know a lot of people start off writing a Novel, but I haven’t ever heard of someone just sitting down from scratch and writing a publishable ‘first Novel’ straight off the bat… no J K Rowling most definitely did-not do this! That’s another rule of writing, ‘don’t believe the hype’, especially your own…
When at last you have finally honed that work a few publishing options are open to you. As you have probably heard several times already, self-publishing through the vanity-press is pretty much a non-starter for most people. If you want to build up a portfolio this won’t gain you any kudos with publishers, and may end up costing you dearly. A proper credit is generally seen as an acceptance from a paying market. For short-stories you can try the many on-line web-sites and e-zines that pay. I know some of the proper tutorials advised against publishing anywhere, but to me that first sale was a big step. I got paid real money for the privilege and I think, like many people, my outlook changed, albeit slightly, when I saw my first paid-for story in print. Somewhere a small voice gave a guarder cheer and said, ‘Yes someone will pay me for my writing.’ The money only bought a few beers, but that wasn’t the point, not the point at all. Most writers will never get mega-rich from the profits.
Remember, you are not alone. The good thing is: there are thousands of other people in the same position as you, no matter how far up the ladder you get. So there is help and support out there if you want it. On the other hand, the bad thing is: there are thousands of other people in the same position as you, and any one of them could be competing for the same markets as you, so be sure to get lots of practice in, then practice some more!
So, do you still want to be a paperback writer? I do!

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