Writing in order to be able to write

Glasses on a printed manuscript.I’ve had a sniff of interest in my second manuscript. Not an offer by any means, but after in initial submission I now have to write a proposal.

Being a noob at this writing game, I suppose that I’ll have to get used to this. I’m fast learning that in order to be a creative writer, you also need to be able to market your work and to sell it to potential publishers. I’d assumed that my obvious talents (ahem!) would shine from the printed page or the computer screen and that would be all there was to it.

But no, it’s back down to Earth with a bump and shin bruised from catching it on the coffee table of life as I attempt to rise to my feet and dust myself off. I keep telling myself that I’m prepared for rejection and that this will all be part of the learning process. I’ve read all the horror stories of authors receiving hundred of rejection letters for their best work, before lucking into a contract.

All I want to do is to write my stories…


101 Uses of a Dead Kindle

101 Uses of a Dead KindleI recently upgraded my old third generation Kindle (the one with the keyboard), for a nice new Kindle Fire HD. Much as I love printed books, I have no problem with buying e-books, though I do tend to treat them in much the same way that I treat buying music: if I really like a band, I’ll probably buy the CD, but otherwise I’ll just download it in mp3 form.

For many though, there seems to be some sort of dichotomy in place – you can either like one form or another. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps it’s just the natural resistance that you get to emerging technologies – I’ve got an uncle who still resents CDs and swears that you can’t beat vinyl for the faithful reproduction of music!

I mention all this as I stumbled across an ad on The Guardian website this morning for a new book, 101 Uses of a Dead Kindle. Being the saddo that I am, I was first drawn to the title as it didn’t didn’t seem correct grammatically. I assume that it’s authors are Americans as British authors would have called it 101 Uses for a Dead Kindle. Either way, it looks like an amusing read and I’ll probably add it to my Christmas wish list. No doubt many others will end up with a copy in their stockings too – why else release a book at this time of year about what is sure to be one of the biggest selling gadgets of the season?

My only problem now is whether to ask for the paperback or the e-book version.

How much?

For those of use struggling to make it out there in the world of publishing, it’s hard to take a balanced view of the amount paid to Pippa Middleton for her new party planning book. Apparently she received an advance of £400,000 for what has amounted to a critical and commercial flop thus far: Celebrate? I doubt it… Pippa’s party book tumbles down charts.

I’ve always had mixed feelings on this sort of thing, assuming that big celebrity Christmas books somehow raked in the cash that enabled publishers to plough money into real literature. But, according to the follow-up article in today’s Indie, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Penguin, it seems, are hoping that the book might have some legs as a ‘stocking filler’, but otherwise are looking forward to it being a staple of bargain buckets in the post-festive sales. Might not the money have been better spent in development of new talent? Any first-time writer would bite the hand off a publisher that offered one tenth of her advance fee and they’d still have plenty left in the kitty for editing, promotion and marketing etc.

I don’t blame Pippa. Someone waved a cheque under her nose for not very much work, she took it, and who wouldn’t? But for those of us who aspire to something more creative and literary, it makes you wonder if it’s all worth it when you see such a cynical transaction.

The comedian Stewart Lee performed a brilliant analysis of celebrity books on his Comedy Vehicle show a while ago:

Zombies and editor’s block

I’ve been editing my second manuscript with a view to trying to get it in front of some agents – the only trouble is that it’s over 90,000 words in length and every time I go over it, it seems to get a little bit longer. I think that I’m going to just bite the bullet and put it in the post, as I’ve re-written the opening six times now and each time think that it can be improved.

Trawling through the rest of the piece, I keep seeing where I could have enhanced things, but then I come up against a sort of editor’s block and can’t see in which direction to go. Doubtless a more experienced author (rather than compulsive writer), would know how to deal with this, but after writing my first novel at a steady pace of around 2,000 words a day, I’m a bit frustrated that I can’t do more with what I’ve already written.

Any sagacious advice out there would be welcome!

Just finished reading the first three The Walking Dead graphic novels that have been sitting on my shelf since the Christmas before last. Fan of the TV show though I am, the comic book version is more of a roller-coaster ride and a much more exciting experience. Something about the grey and black artwork also adds to the gravity and bleakness of the situation in which the character’s find themselves. It’s got me in a mood to seek out more zombie literature. Already got Julianne Snow’s Days with the Undead: Book One sitting on my desk in front of me and World War Z on my Kindle. I think that I’ll fill my Christmas list up with anything else decent that I come across.

Happy birthday Bram!

Today’s Google ‘doodle’ is an Aubrey Beardsley-styled tribute to Bram Stoker on what would have been his 165th birthday (had he become one of the undead presumably!).

Dracula on Google.

Following the link from the image, I ended up searching for more volumes of Dracula which I don’t need. It’s one of my all-time favourites and responsible more than any other book for my interest in all things horrible. As a result, I have four copies of the novel on my shelves: a cheap pound version that I picked up as a teenager; a limited edition quarter-bound edition; the Norton Critical Edition and Leonard Wolf’s The Annotated Dracula which I managed to hunt down second-hand a few years ago. I even have the e-book version on my Kindle so that I always have the text to hand.

I’ve never done this with any other book, as much as there are others that I have read, re-read and enjoyed over and over again. Today’s little trawl of the interweb revealed a limited edition facsimile version of the original that was produced earlier this year to ‘celebrate’ the centenary of Stoker’s death. I don’t need it, and don’t even have room for it, but I’m still going to order a copy.

Top 10 most read books

I’ve decided that I’m obviously more thinly than widely read when confronted with the top ten list of most read books. Other than having had to read through swathes of the Bible while at school, I’ve not read one of them – not even The Lord of the Rings.

Having admitted this, I’m not too full of regret at not having read The Twilight Saga, The Da Vinci Code or any of the Harry Potter books. My omission of The Diary of Anne Frank smarts a little though. I must add it to my Kindle.

Top 10 Most Read Books in the World

by Jared. Browse more data visualization.

(courtesy of visual.ly via The Paris Review)