Saturday, October 14, 2006

Should it matter, who I am?

Well at last I've got round to writing another blog contribution. The last was in early spring, and the weather here in NZ is beginning to seem like early summer already - some very hot days. So it's beginning to look like 'one blog per season' instead of one a week.

My family here are doing all right. My 12 y.o. grandson is on the computer too much, I would say, but he at least looks for things he can do actively, and gets inspiration from what he finds. The trouble is I believe he would get more 'uplifting' inspiration from reading good books.

That brings me to the business of having written a book - I could call it the second re-write of a book. I am now on the third re-write, and there will be a fourth. Now, I have listened to a number o authors talking on radio and read several on how to write, and many of them (to me) seem to boast about how many re-writes they've done to succeed with their book. I don't believe them. Oh, yes, I can believe them if they mean what I mean, that they count going through the material with changes and corrections on the screen as a re-write each time. But I don't believe they actually start from the beginning and write the whole thing out again 24 times as one recent author claimed. I think they are just trying to put us writers and would-be authors off! After all, why shouldn't they? They naturally don't want the buyers of books to have too much choice, so that they bypass their book. Put them off! Get rid of the rivals!

The other thing I think authors do - but this is really the fault of interviewers of authors - they don't reveal when they have written eleven books and had eight published just how they physically managed to do it. Do they lock their doors agains family members and friends? To produce a full length novel suitable to send to a publisher is a mamoth task, as I've just been finding out. Once published, of course, it must be easier, as family and friends 'understand' one's hermit-like existence. The other aspect of this, of course, is who stands behind the author to enable him or her to devote him or her self to the writing and not be having to prepare meals, wash socks, attack the weeds in the garden, do the shopping, mess about with incoming mail and outgoing trash? I wish interviewers would ask these things of successful authors.

Having enjoyed writing the story in its essence, then the hard work begins. One is just beginning. There's the re-writes. Then the preparing of the manuscript, which is just amazing. There are almost 30 specific requirements to the making of a presentable manuscript. Almost every one of those requirements or rules is not adhered to when one just goes ahead and writes the initial version on the computer or typewiter. A novel will end up a huge pile of paper, with just a few words on each page. No wonder Kerry Hume considered using hers as a door-stop.

But when I read through the novel I've just written, I have faith that it could find a fairly large readership, especially among people who don't mind going into regions that are a bit strange with strange names, as in most fantasy books. And yet my book is quite close to real history. One author (on radio) recently commented, historical fiction is a bit of a cheat: It is difficult for both author and reader to sort out what really happened from what is made up. It suffered from that 'confuson'. But a book in a historical setting but in no real country - say like 'Prisoner of Zenda' - or as my book is - can overcome that disadvantage. My book has a good rounded plot and a lot of excitement, despite that the environment is not a 'given' as when one writes about people in the city one lives in or something like that - so a bit of 'basic description' is necessary.

Finally, I would hope that a book such as the one I have written would be entirely looked at on its own merits, and the publisher would not be influenced by who I am, how old I am, whether I've had anything published previously, whether I'm recommended to him or her by any person or organization of importance, like from the leader of a writer's course and such like. I should not matter who I am. Just that I am the author and the book is worth publishing (if it is). But I fear that the attitudes of people in this day and age have become excessively 'nosey' about personalities and celebrities associated with any creation that slips through the barriers to be a potential success. Maybe it will end up in my just printing a few copies for family and friends - but I ought to at least have a go.


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