Do the Work

There’s a vast abyss between would-be writers, and the ones who are really prepared to do the backbreaking work. I never ever show work in progress to anyone, not even Rachana, my wife… because I don’t like to be judged or critiqued until something is what I would class as very clean. People try and send me bits of books they are writing the entire time. I suppose that all authors get this and I really wish would-be writers would spend their time writing and not sending half-baked material out, hoping for praise. Remember, a book isn’t finished just because you have written a draft. That’s the real starting point. It’s the clay from which you can sculpt a work of genius. Here’s an example that’s stuck in my head. A few days ago a close friend asked if I would read a book that her ex-boyfriend had written, and give him feedback. She added that it was rather good in her opinion. The manuscript was emailed to me. I scanned as much of it that I could endure. It was clear from the start that there were some very serious problems. The first and main one was that as a ‘first book’, the writer was relishing in ever cliché that had ever been invented. The other faults were a total lack of character arc, narrative voice, themes, detail etc. So I wrote to my friend and suggested that she send my comments to her ex boyfriend. I told her that as I didn’t know the man, I hadn’t really got an idea what he wanted. So I wrote two different letters to her, and asked her to judge what he wanted and send on the appropriate one. The first letter was one of unctuous praise. I assumed the man had written the book, and was now showing it to me, because he wanted attention. I raved about his great work, complimented him in the most over the top manner, and wished him luck. The second letter explained that the book was totally flat, a complete heap of nonsense, without hardly any merit at all. BUT, I said, if he worked and worked and worked at it, he would eventually reshape it and could turn it into something worthwhile. If he did that, I explained, he would have what it takes to be a published author. I don’t know which letter she sent on.


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