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Rapid Judgements

I've been thinking about how quickly we make judgements - with books, people, and life in general.

It's been prompted by a crime writing event I did in Falmouth last week, with the lovely Emily Barr. Here's the pair of us, after the gig - a kind of beauty and the beast photo.

Falmouth Simon and Emily.jpg

I was chatting with a woman afterwards, who kindly said something along the lines of "I thought you were a wally at first, seeing that shirt you were wearing, but now I reckon you're not so bad".

Well, half a compliment is better than none. And looking at the photo, I can't necessarily disagree about the shirt.

But it was an example of a rapid judgement - something I suppose we all make, no matter how much we might tell ourselves we shouldn't.

For an artist of any kind, it's a particular lament. Write a book and it can often take three years, from the idea to publication. And a reader can judge it in the first few minutes, as they work through a page or two.

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Storming the Castle

There's one lament I hear time and again from aspiring authors, and I feel for them.

It's a familar one, but frustrating nonetheless, and it's this - how hard it is, however much work you put in, to actually get published.

Yes it is, I won't deny it ... but! Never give up, because it does happen - I know, because it happened to me.

And once you're in, it does get easier, I promise you. Because that's the point of this little ramble.

I've come to think of the battle to get published as storming the castle.

When you're outside, the fortress that is publication looks darned daunting. The walls are thick, strong and high, and you can feel there's no chance of ever getting inside.

But when you do, everything changes. You get to know other writers, publishers and agents, you can socialise with them, chat away, and suddenly all sorts of opportunities begin to open up. I suppose it's the old story of who you know.

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Admirable Arts

I've always counted myself very fortunate for the passable gift of words with which I've been blessed. But the more I see of the creative world, the more I admire of other arts.

On Wednesday, I was in Exmouth to judge the town's Art Group Annual Exhibition. And I wanted to share some of what I saw there, because it's very well worth seeing.

Firstly, I was more than a little nervous about the judging. What do I know about art?

Exmouth simon.jpg

This is me, at the exhibition, looking a little daunted and quizzical (to say the least). But I needn't have worried, because everyone was so kind and made me hugely welcome - a very big thank you for that.

There were three hundred artworks to judge, and it took me almost three hours, and much agonising to come to a top three. This is the third place - Riding the Waves, by Pat Tubbs.

Exmouth third.jpg

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If you ever need self-analysis, don't bother wasting money on some expert, just do it yourself, and here's the easy way - once again, I'm drawn to musing on something I've learned about me whilst becoming a writer.

It's to do with community.

I've often been told there's a great sense of my beloved Devon in the tvdetective books, and I'm proud that's the case.

One of the reasons I love dear Devon so much is the feeling of community, and belonging to something special, unique and important. It persists here, whereas in so many places it's been eroded away.

I love the way in so many towns and villages people know each other and are happy and keen to help each other - be neighbours, not strangers - but even more than that...

They want to retain the sense of a place as not just a group of individuals, but a community, a place with its own spirit and identity. And that means so much.

At the weekend, I had the honour of opening the new Book Exchange, in the village of Woodbury Salterton in east Devon.

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