Thursday, 7 May 2009


I am about to disappear again for a few days, this time to Paris - yeah, I know, being an author with a book to promote sucks - and I am also aware that a) I have been dilatory with your edification recently and b) I am about to enter a phase of being even more dilatory, as I have to hurl myself into more promotional stuff AND there's been (still is) the bloody Nanowrimo (sorry, Elen, I mean incredibly wonderful Nanowrimo which you kindly organised) and some guest blogs I've promised to do and a list of tasks the length of several arms. No mountains though, or only metaphorical ones.

So, until I come back from Paris (did I say that was where I'm going?) I thought I'd leave you with an excellent website full of sound advice and a particular post within it, which I thought was apt to all of us.

The website (and you should bookmark it, as I'm about to) is Casting the Bones, and thanks to "Sarah" for pointing it out. Robert Gregory Browne is the no-nonsense, successful author and I recommend his advice. I also hope you will look at the craft-honing articles BEFORE the "how to get an agent" ones ... I think he would agree.

The article I want you to think about is Are You Ready to be a Published Writer? There were so many lines in it that had me silently cheering but I particularly liked this: "So don’t be so anxious to get published. Be anxious to hone your craft. Expand your understanding of the process. To write stories that will have editors and producers thinking they have no choice but to buy it." This is exactly the drive of my blog.

We've all had that moment of finishing something and being desperate to send it off NOW because it's FAB and we're WRITERS and need to be READ, NOW, or SOONER if possible. But a) when we look at it a few days later, we should be very glad we didn't send it and b) it is almost certainly not as brilliant to a reader as it felt to us as its writer. When we step back, if we've learnt anything, we'll see those faults and know that there are also more faults that we haven't seen.

We must work to find those faults and improve until our writing really is the best it could be. And also good enough to be read and enjoyed by our intended readers, however many they may be.

This leads on from the interesting conversation in the comments on my recent self-publishing post, because there's so much I didn't have time to say about that, and calm though the opposing reasoning was, I simply wasn't persuaded by it and its sieviness. The reason it leads on is that this time to hone, this need to understand about not being ready to be published, this vast chasm that too often exists between how you are writing now and how you could be writing given good direction, is precisely why self-publishing is a very poor answer for the author in that position. (But a good answer for some other authors.)

Self-publishing tempts the unpublished author to bypass that crucial honing and improving and growing stage - unless you really think that your self-published book is only a practice run and you really don't care whether it's the best you can do, or indeed good enough - and if you don't care, well, er, good luck to you because possibly I don't too much care about that sort of writing or writer either ....

The only sort of writer I care about, and the sort of writer this blog is written for, is the sort of writer who will go to the ends of the earth on hands and knees with a cactus strapped to his back to become a better writer, the best writer you can be. Because nothing else is worth doing, as far as I'm concerned. And granted that "better writer" or even "best writer" is not a finite or objective or box-tickable target, it's the only one I am aiming for.

Yay, crabbit is back! And now is going again ...

From Saturday morning till next Wednesday night, I will be unlikely to get online much, not because they don't have the innernet in Paris (did I say that was where I'm going?) but because I am going to be expected to be working for my baguettes; I've seen my programme from the schools and no minute is left untended, believe me. Even the bits that are not work (and to be very fair, there are many, as they have a decent pace of living over there) are occupied by things like "walk in such and such beautiful garden" or "have coffee in such an such café" or "drink champagne in..." No, sorry, got a bit carried away there: there was no mention of champagne.

Oh, by the way - funny question in one of the school-talks I did this morning (from an eleven-year-old boy, remarkably): "Why aren't you wearing blue boots?" My fame precedes me, clearly.

Au revoir.


Emma said...

Thanks for another great post, and a very useful link.

I'm off out to buy a cactus.

Bon Voyage Nicola!

Sarah said...

Paris... really?!?

Thanks for downplaying the trip- it would've been hard for some of us if you'd gone on and on about it.

So agree about honing our work. The more I work at writing, the less I'm pleased with my own. (A far cry from my elation several years ago after finishing my first draft.)

Glad you liked the website!

Donna Hosie said...

Have fun in Paris, Nicola. Be sure to buy new boots.

Nicola Morgan said...

Donna - if you insist.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I would not only agree, Nicola, I would strongly encourage aspiring writers to not even be THINKING about how to get an agent until they're confident that they have work an agent can sell. Jumping in prematurely may make it difficult to get them to pay attention to you when you ARE ready.

Thanks for link. And I'll be adding content whenever I can, so I hope you'll all continue to stop by. I'm also seriously thinking about opening up comments, so we can have a little conversation about the articles.

Thanks again.

DanielB said...

Bon voyage. Bonne chance. Bon courage. Chapeau melon et bottes de cuir.

joesanchez said...

Paris, I remember being in Paris on the 100th Birthday of the Eiffel Tower Standing on the observation deck it the rain back in 1989. You must go to Notre Dame the most ornate building in the world I think. It took various architects 185 years to complete the gothic cathedral, truly a wonder of masonry.

Jo Franklin said...

Last time I went to Paris I got lost on the metro because I couldn't understand the announcements and ended up in some backwater, 3 hours late for a meeting.
I thought one of the plus points of being a published writer was 'no more business travel'. You've shattered all my illusions.
Can't I just be an eccentric recluse?

Nicola Morgan said...

No, Jo - even more business travel, I'm afraid: just smaller rooms. (Though, in fact, I have no complaints at all, as I was looked after very nicely, and was even given food that looked like haggis on one occasion, so I felt quite at home.) I soon learnt that the problem with finding your way in Paris is that when they mean "straight on" they put an arrow pointing DOWN, which to us means "go down the stairs which are right there" ...