Thursday, 10 July 2014

Well, have you got one inside you?

Christopher Hitchens, Political commentator and columnist for Vanity Fair (amongst other famous publications) once famously said:

"Everyone does have a book in them..."

And he was right, we've all got a story to tell.  It could be factual, maybe things that have happened to you that you think other people might find interesting, The sort of things you say when you've had one pint of Creme-de-Menthe too many and you suddenly stand up, throw your arms wide and shout "I once painted the CND symbol on a sleeping pig using a spray-can of orange icing and a wallpaper brush!"

Or, they could be made up, you could have an idea for a great story about a talking weasel called Chip McFlinders who can wave his little fingers and create a mirror, that can take him back in time to visit historical situations... But all the people have been replaced by other, improbably named, time-travelling weasels.  I don't know, although I think "Chip McFlinders and his waving mirror fingers." might have been the working title for one of John Grisham's books... Think it was The Pelican Brief if I remember correctly.

Fact or fiction, funny or serious, uplifting or horrifying - It's the germ of an idea that eats away at you. The more people say "You should write a book." the more you start to agree with them.  And you really should, it's wonderfully theraputic.  Whether you choose to cram it all down in a spiral-bound notebook that you've managed to liberate from work when the person with the key to the stationery cupboard wasn't looking, or tap it away into a hookey copy of Word that was on a CD that came with the laptop when you bought it from eBay.

Both equally valid, and I know people who call themselves 'Writers' that do both quite happily (Not at the same time though... That way madness lies).

But you, the people reading this, the ones that don't even call yourselves a writer, certainly not an author, will look at that blank piece of paper, or that snowy-white screen with the slowly blinking cursor and go a bit dry in the mouth, or a bit pale, or a bit cold.

Then your mind'll go blank.  Then you'll wonder what you were thinking ever imagining that a snot like you could ever write a book and you'll slam the lid/cover of your chosen writing media, make yourself a coffee and watch Jeremy Kyle, whilst all the time looking at your laptop/notebook as if it's in some way its fault.

This is the point where a lot of people give up.

The trick to getting past this point is simple, just DON'T stop! Write something, anything...

Write 'Once upon a time.'
Write 'It was a dark and stormy night.'
Write 'Though brilliantly sunny, Saturday morning was overcoat weather again, not just topcoat weather.'
Write 'We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert.'
Write 'Call me Ishmael.'

(There are people who might think you weren't taking things particularly seriously if you used the last three though in fairness)

But the fact is, once you start, it's difficult to stop - It's addictive, like snorting cocaine, having tattoos or collecting Pokemon.  You'll find yourself sat on the train, congratulating yourself for remembering to charge your laptop so that you can write a few hundred words.  You'll find yourself on the bus, wishing that it wasn't too bumpy a journey for you to write anything and wondering whose still warm urine is sloshing against your new Manolo Blahnicks.

Most of all, you'll be kicking yourself for not starting sooner.  The sooner you start writing, the sooner you finish the book.  The sooner you finish the book, the sooner you can get it published.  The sooner you get it published, the sooner you can print out your sales figures and customer reviews from Amazon and rub them all over your body like a literary hippopotamus bathing in a sea of Kindles.

"But getting a book published is difficult and what if it's not any good?" You think to yourself when your initial euphoria has died down.  It's true, not everyone's good at everything... I mean, I am, obviously - But then you all knew that already, you read this blog.

But there are a plethora of people around and about that are more than willing to help...

*Take a deep breath and hold on to your bear-skin balaclavas, there's an advert off the starboard bow!*

People like The Penguin's Head, a group that I'm proud to be able to say that I have some small stake in.  It's three normal guys (Well, two normal guys and me... Actually it's one normal... Thinking about it, it's three pretty odd guys) who love writing and think that more people doing it will drive standards up.

We're probably monumentally wrong about that, but its gotta be worth a punt, hasn't it?

TPH will try and help get your idea out into the big, wide world.  We'll take your first-born manuscript, take an look at it and give you some feedback FOR FREE! And what do you get for free nowadays? (apart from that notepad you nicked in the fourth(ish) paragraph above) I'll tell you... Bugger all! That's what you get for free nowadays.

Once we've given you the feedback, and we've all decided whether we want to work with each other, then we talk about the services we can provide (editing, proofreading, formating, design, publishing etc.) and how much it's likely to set you back.  You're still under no obligation at this point obviously.  We haven't done anything except read a bit, and who in their right mind would charge for that?

If you carry on the relationship from that point, eventually the world officially becomes your lobster... You're an author, you'll have a book you can hold in your hand, or a series of electrical impulses you can read on your Kindle at least.

And you'll feel smug.

And you can tick off another thing on your bucket list.

And you'll never have to think "I wonder if I could write a book?" ever again, because you will have done so, and it doesn't matter that your significant other used it for swatting a fly and it's got a greasy smear on the back because it's got your name on the spine, and that is a pretty immense feeling.

But don't take my word for it.  You should ask this lady... She's 'Gone through our mill.' and come out the other side reasonably unscathed.  You should go to Amazon and buy her new poetry book right now.

It's available in both good old-fashioned paperback and for the new-fangled Kindle HERE 

You should buy it, it's great.

Then you should buy a couple of my books from HERE

Then you should review them all (favourably) and settle back into your favourite reading chair and give yourself a big hug... You've just made an independent author feel good about themselves.

And THAT'S what life is all about.

(P.S. Christopher Hitchens finished his quote with, "...but in most cases that's where it should stay."  I chose to gloss over that part.)

1 comment:

  1. "Write something, anything ..." also works for narrative exam questions (where you just don't know where to start, and the clock is ticking) and those 'keep-in-touch' letters to elderly relatives. My husband was a wonderful writer - and certainly had a damn good book 'in him' - but he had such self-doubt that he never published; he died at an early age with the book still 'in him'. So, as Rob says, "write something, anything ..." Carrie