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The Unglamorous Truth

I've had several friends go through the process of being published now, and each has had a similar experience.

It's exactly the same as mine - not in the least how aspiring writers tend to dream of it - but all the more worth sharing for that.

The fantasy is that the phone goes and it's a publisher enthralled and entranced with your wonderful work, busily bidding huge advances and promising you the world, plus the moon and all the planets adjacent.

The reality is somewhat different.

Sorry, but it's true. It goes this way - you get a call saying they're "interested" in your work, but...

Then come the negotiations. Some bits would have to change. Some parts of the plot must go, others come in. More action is required, several characters need rethinking. The structure requires attention. And as for the settings...

Would you be prepared to put all that work in? - bearing in mind, of course, all the work that you've already put in. And that you're in love with what you've written, and think it a most beautiful thing.

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The Agony of Awaiting

I'm in author's limbo, and it's not plesant.

It's that agnoising stage that writers come to know so well, when you're waiting for something important but it won't come.

I shall explain -

But before I do, with that old writing trick of keeping you in suspense, a quick photo I took by the Exe today as I tried to distract myself from the waiting time. It's a favourite walk of mine when something is on my mind; the beauty of the river and the clownery of the geese, swans and ducks, it always helps to ease any troubles.

Geese on Exe.jpg

(They know an odd looking chap when they see one, and keep a careful eye on me as you can see.)

So, back to the agony of awaiting. And it goes like this -

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The simplest way to build characters

I think that's the longest title I've ever given a blog. But fear not, I don't expect the actual ramble to be so protracted.

I had a problem recently - no, don't say it, I know what you're thinking - this was with a couple of minor characters for the new tvdetective book, which is due out in spring of next year.

They weren't quite working for me. They were almost there, say 90% complete, but not entirely whole and rounded. Something was missing and I couldn't quite see what.

I chased the problem around for a few days, and it did what problems classically do when you go hunting them - it stayed just out of reach, waving happily and mocking me.

So I tried to find a solution in an old and loyal friend. Well, it was more than just beer in fact. I took a couple of hours sitting in the corners of two different busy pubs, to observe the people. Just sitting there quietly, with a piece of paper and a pen and my drink, and taking the odd note.)

(I had my own little bet on about how many people would ask me what I was doing, and it was more than I expected. I must have looked particularly strange, or sinister, or maybe (more likely?) both.)

Anyway, it took a fair bit less than the two hours I'd allowed before I had my solutions. And the answer was surprisingly simple, as often they are.

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The Unifying Force

A splendid time teaching crime writing in Torquay at the weekend has prompted a little reflection on the unifying power of books and authoring.

There was a lovely mix of people on the course, both older and younger; here are some of them, wrestling with an exercise I'd set on show and tell (while I disappeared looking for the power cord for the computer - the clue is on the screen!)

2013-10-06 12.06.55.jpg

One of the great things about writing is that it's not age discriminatory. You can do it however old you are, do it well, and enjoy it.

In recent years, for the first time in my life, I've felt distinctly mortal as time goes about its insiduous work. I can't run as fast as I used to, or for as long. And many other things besides, which you really don't want to know about.

But - hopefully, at least - I can still think and feel, and observe the world. And they're the key components of the author's art.

It's just another reason to love writing. I never chose it because it would be a joyous companion into older age, but I'm so happy it's turned out that way.

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Romance; real and fictional

Quality of wooing material

Quality of suitor

Interview Process


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