Writing is not typing
March 19, 2013 § 2 Comments
People who don’t write may indeed think that writing is typing. Last summer when I was talking to a friend who I had not seen for many years about the difficulty of getting published, the advice given was that I should write a bestseller and fill it with sensational material. Sometimes you are amused at this sort of advice, at others, depressed.
Do people suppose because I am trying to write serious fiction that all I have to do is just drop a gear or two, and then I could whack out a bestseller? I only have to sit down at the word processor and type until I reach a target of 70,000 words. Then the words THE END could be added and I could bundle a copy into a envelope and sent it to publishers. On receipt, they would publish my novel with scant regard for my obscurity. And within a few weeks, my novel would be a New York Times bestseller.
Then, I could feel pleased that I had put the bestseller, I had tucked up my sleeve, all that time, into circulation. How silly of me to have been aiming so high for nothing when I could have been earning a great deal of money from my bestseller.
Now I must explain to people the following:
1. Writing any book requires a great deal of effort and time.
2. If you are ‘insincere’ about the book you are writing, your readers will sense that.
3. Many people attempt to write bestsellers but they do not succeed.
People have suggested other things to me besides writing a bestseller. Someone suggested I write a screenplay or perhaps a play. I haven’t an idea how to do either. Wouldn’t it be better for me to stick to writing novels ? After all, I have some idea how to write those.
Last November, a published writer, to inspire me, told me of a friend of hers who had written a children’s book, about a hamster with some connection to Hampstead Heath. The writer lived in Hampstead. The local bookshop sold it. I should mention also that he had a very well paying job in the BBC, and had no wish to be a serious writer. She suggested I might set a story in Finsbury Park, the largest park near me.
People do mean to be encouraging but I would almost prefer if they were being malicious. At least, you could write the malicious remarks off. There are some differences between that writer and me:
1. I do not have a well paying job in the BBC.
2. I do not have a whim to write a story about a hamster and be quite content to see it sell a few copies in the local bookshop.
3. I am not dabbling in writing.
I have ambitions, not whims. I want to be a published writer of stories that have suggested themselves to me. Stories of finned creatures in Finsbury Park are for somebody else.
Please be careful what you say to the unpublished writer. She is a very sensitive creature. And, at all times, but particularly before suggesting some years’ long project she undertake, understand this: writing is not typing.