Sunday, 20 March 2016

Good Advice

I’m worried about writers struggling to get their work published who might read this blog in the hope of being encouraged – because I wouldn’t want to put anyone off, but unless you’re made of stern stuff, the best advice I can give you is that next time you get the urge to write, you should lie down, put a cold compress on your head and wait for the madness to pass. Tidy your underwear drawer. Or take up something useful, like knitting – or, as previously recommended, plumbing.
But if you persevere, and finally give birth to your precious manuscript (written over ten years, in tea-breaks, on the bus, or locked in the bathroom) you need to know that composing a covering letter and synopsis that will catch the eye of some jaded publisher or agent will give you almost as much grief as the original work. And even if you’re very lucky and someone eventually responds (after 276 submissions and several crates of gin) don’t be fooled by the initial overtures, because, as night follows day, this is what will happen…

AGENT  I really love this book…
WRITER  Incoherent grateful weeping noises..
AGENT  But I do think it needs a few small changes…
WRITER  Yes, yes, of course! What do you suggest?
AGENT  Well, I think it could work so much better if you cut the first four chapters, and changed the setting from Portadown to somewhere a little more edgy – Pyongyang? – and have you thought about making the kindly old doctor a vampire?
WRITER  Faint choking sounds…
AGENT  Also, I’m not sure about the historic background…and the love story between Judith and Gerald - why not make that Judith and Geraldine? Or maybe Gerald could be Trans?...Hello? Hello? Are you still there...?

Don't say I didn't warn you.

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