DW: "But my book is as it is. And besides, it isn't really my book"Fine. So tell it. Just don't expect anyone to read it if it's not good enough. And you are not the first or last person to tell me that your book came as a gift from above. To be honest, that's what it often feels like when an idea hits a writer. It's called inspiration. It should be followed almost immediately by a lot of perspiration.
DW: "No, the idea came to me from above, as a gift. It's the story I had to tell. I have to tell it."
That was a shortened version of a very LONG conversation, during which I was trying to help a woman who claimed to have been rejected by many dozens of publishers. (I believe her. There is evidence.) She wanted to know why she'd been rejected. No, actually, she didn't want to know why. She wanted to blast the stupid publishers who were being so obtuse and ignorant that they didn't recognise a gift-horse when they saw it. This woman was not a writer; she had no idea of the craft and graft involved.
Writing is not channelling. Actually, perhaps the first draft often is - and, yes, I do know that wonderful feeling when you go into some kind of altered state and the story just flows. But the second and eleventy-millionth drafts are not channelling. They are proper hard work, needing skills which must be applied ruthlessly.
I could name this woman quite safely because she won't be reading this. How do I know? Because when I asked her whether, in her thwarted quest to become published, she read any blogs or books about writing, she had a confident answer.
"Oh no, I don't have time for that. Anyway, as I say, my book is as it is."Struggling a little, I tried another tack.
"So, what are you writing now, while you're waiting for responses to this one?"She looked at me blankly. (This was the first time she'd looked at me at all, so even blankly was a start.)
"Oh, I'm not writing anything else. This is the book I've got to write."
"But that will be a problem for a publisher," I said. "You need to show that you have more than one book in you. Besides, don't you want to write more?"
"God, no. I'm not doing that again!"And she then went on and on about how it was ridiculous that all the publishers had said no, how there was nothing wrong with her book, and that it was important that it be published.
Sadly for her and frustratingly for me, neither of us achieved anything during this conversation. I gave away at least twenty minutes when I could have been speaking to other genuine writers who actually wanted advice. To be fair to her, she hadn't asked for my help. But I knew from a comment that she needed good advice and I stupidly thought she might welcome it, free and warmly offered. I was actually incredibly patient and really did want to help, but she was, without doubt, the most unhelpable person I have ever met.
(Edited to add: because so many of you seem to be worried that YOU might be delusional wannabes, I am now going to do a separate post in which I define one!)
Why am I telling you this?
Because, after many months of you saying nice things to me, I want to say something nice to you. I want to say that I hugely appreciate that none of you have fallen into the trap that this poor woman was stuck in. You have shown, by your comments and contributions that you are damned hard-working writers, seeking the best and most undelusional ways towards publication. Many of you are already published and you know how hard the business is. Many of you have been rejected many times, as I was and as most writers have been, and you believe that hard work and talent are the most likely ways through that.
So, I want to say well done, thank you and huge good luck, too. May you all find exactly the right book and write it in exactly the right way. SOON!
Why am I being so nice? I don't know. Anyone would think it was my silver wedding anniversary today or something. OH! IT IS! Better go and check the champagne's on ice.