Brilliantly Edited Garbage
What the writing guides don’t tell you
I’ve just seen a picture from the publishers of my book, quite literally hot off the press, in all its glory. Thank goodness I didn’t give up. But don’t think I wasn’t tempted.
By now, I was getting inundated with email after email that promised to help me achieve my dream. If I’d let it happen, just reading them all could have taken up pretty much every spare moment and given me no time to actually write.
One thing I noticed early on was that there was an awful lot of ‘support’ for would be authors. But if I’d took up every offer of help and gone to every event that promised to make a difference, I’d have spent in the region of a hundred grand and had little time left to do anything else.
An agent had written me a very personal reply a year earlier saying he’d given Child Taken careful consideration. Twelve months on, with a much better version now in place, I sent it to him again. And got exactly the same ‘personal’ response. Identical to the last full stop! I was learning, not very quickly, but I was learning.
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two imposters just the same.” The words belonged to a Rudyard Kipling poem. I seem to recall England’s football manager, Graham Taylor, saying them. But then again, it might have been Mike Bassett.
Nine months after I had the original idea for Child Taken, I’d got a first draft that wasn’t bad. But I’d heard an interview with Jeffrey Archer in which he said that he took his books through at least a dozen edits so I knew that this was just the beginning. Time to send? Many do but please, don’t be the slightest bit tempted.
As more than 99% of manuscripts sent to agents and publishers are rejected, the theory is that more than 99% of them are not ready to be sent when they are. The truth is; it can always be better.
I managed to go about eighteen months but eventually the cracks start to appear and you have to begin let others into the circle of trust. My mother-in-law was a fully paid up member before then as she wondered why I worked so late and was not home that much and telling her the truth was better than her thinking I was having an affair.
I was leading a double life and I did this because I made the decision not to tell anyone (except for my wife) that I was writing a book. It was exactly because I didn’t want people to do what the t-shirt says and ask me about it.
The hour or so first thing in the morning became so important for me, as did the three hours each evening after my day job finished at around five. It was important to feel comfortable; feel right. If they serve superb coffee, as 200 Degrees certainly do, then all the better.