Although I have suggested that the creative writing industry exists as much for the tutors’ benefit as the students’ (as is often the case with helping relationships), I’m not against writing courses, mentoring and professional critiques. I’ve drawn on all three in my own journey to becoming a published novelist, and have a new piece on The Literary Consultancy website about how separate critical readings from members of their panel of experienced writers and editors helped shape my recently published second novel, Underneath. But these appraisals don’t come cheap. If you’re thinking of commissioning one, here are a few questions to ask yourself first.
Over half a century ago, the social scientist and psychoanalyst, Isabel Menzies Lyth was commissioned to carry out an investigation into why so many promising nursing students were dropping out of training. What she discovered makes edifying reading for anyone using, or employed within, the human services or, indeed, any organisation at all. Despite the best intentions of all the staff, the social systems that had evolved within the hospital were like a spanner in the works, functioning against the primary task of healing the sick. Many highly motivated students, despairing at the impossibility of delivering compassionate care, simply left. Yet this human wastage was built into a system that relied on a high volume of low-paid students to deliver patient care, without having sufficient posts for them to move on to on qualification. Although the work is radically different, I’ve wondered for some time whether there’s a similar redundancy built into the creative writing industry, encouraging the dreams of far more budding writers than there are slots in the publishers’ lists.
What can be more excruciating than contacting your favourite reviewers and writers in advance of publication to beg them, not only to read, but to like, a proof version your forthcoming novel, and declare so publicly for all the world to see? Well, quite a lot, as it happens, but please indulge a first-time novelist’s egocentrism, if you can, for the duration of this post!
The annethology author interview menu grows apace and I'd love to know what you think of it so far. What's your take on the novels I've selected to unpick with their creators? Am I asking the right questions? Are you satisfied with the answers? What are your favourite quotes? How can I make the Q&A process even better? Please take the time to share your thoughts below. You might also like to take another look at the posts generated by my reflections on the similarities and differences between the novels and the things their authors have had to say about them.
In my early days of blogging, I took the 0 Comments by-line at the top of so many posts as an indictment my writing skills. I needed more than the spikes on the website stats chart to convince me I had any readers at all. Six months on I'm happy for you to use the site in any way you like as long as it's legal and decent, but still a little puzzled that so few of you seem to want to leave your mark. Are you all fans of detective fiction, donning kid gloves to come visiting, or has that great poet Leonard Cohen convinced you that true love leaves no traces? That's all well and good, but I can't help wondering if you might enjoy the blog more if it were interactive.
A few words for the hesitant. The system asks for your email address: this is standard practice, presumably to deter trolls, and is never published or used to plague you with junk mail, so please don't let that put you off commenting. For those more familiar with fancier systems that let you leave a thumbnail photo along with your comment, I'm sorry weebly is a bit Amish in that regard, but you could always keep it sparkly by linking to your gratavar if you have one. Sometimes it looks as if you can't post a comment after I've done so, but trust the technology, you can. And however elderly the post, or seemingly mundane your views, I'd be pleased to hear from you.
Overloading me with comments in response to a post on the shortage of the same would be a neat test of the popular misuse of the word irony, don't you think? I welcome your feedback, or lack of it.
Happy New Year!
While many people are already shedding over-optimistic New Year resolutions, I'm still writing cheques for January 2012 so I hope I can be excused for kicking off my blog with a review of the last writing year.
It's been a good one for networking, getting my short stories out into the world and progressing my novels.
Annecdotal is where real life brushes up against the fictional.
Annecdotist is the blogging persona of Anne Goodwin:
slug-slayer, tramper of moors,
author of two novels.
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I don't post to a schedule, but average around ten reviews a month (see here for an alphabetical list),
some linked to a weekly flash fiction, plus posts on writing and my journey to publication and beyond.
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