John Kennedy Toole

The story of John Kennedy Toole is a cautionary one. For years he struggled to get his novel ‘A Confederacy Of Dunces’ published. Following his suicide,it took his mother another eleven years to find a publisher. The following year it won the Pulitzer Prize For Fiction.

If you’re thinking of giving up,then don’t. As Thomas Edison said : ” Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Update 2nd March,2015 : Nick Offerman,of ‘Parks and Recreation’ fame is to take the lead part,playing Ignatius J Reilly in a stage adaptation of ‘A Confederacy Of Dunces’.


Zen Pencils

I’ve been following the work of Gavin Aung Than,who is a freelance cartoonist based in Melbourne, Australia.

His Zen Pencils  cartoon blog adapts inspirational quotes into comic stories,and is well worth a look.

Try these two stories for inspiration in your work as an artist :

A Literary Agony Uncle

Haruki Murakami,the Japanese novelist,has become an agony uncle. He has a web site dedicated to answering questions and problems put to him.

If you haven’t read any of his work,I recommend that you do,as it will make you reconsider how a book is structured and paced. I read ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ a couple of years ago,and though it’s narrative flowed easily not a lot appeared to be happening in the story – except that it was beneath the surface,literally in one part of the plot. it was very clever and memorable.

Does writing come naturally ? I like what he has to say on the subject :

Writing is like “chatting up a woman”, Japan’s superstar novelist Haruki Murakami has said: “You can get better with practice to a certain degree, but basically, you’re either born with it, or you’re not.”

The writer who made millions by self-publishing online

A couple of years ago, Amanda Hocking needed to raise a few hundred dollars so, in desperation, made her unpublished novel available on the Kindle. She has since sold over 1.5m books and, in the process, changed publishing forever.

While I’m pleased for her success,I sometimes wonder at how skewed people’s buying patterns are by what they see as worth reading. J K Rowling could sell millions of copies of a book containing her shopping lists,simply because of her previous success. People buy what they know,especially when money is tight.

I sometimes wonder how many authors a typical reader could name,and also how many of them they regularly read. I’m guessing that it’s not many. I once knew a man who was proud to read books,but the only author that he ever bothered with was Stephen King. That’s all he read,and had hundreds of copies of his titles – some of which were collectible. He wouldn’t even try other horror writers,such was his obsession. He couldn’t be unfaithful to his idol.

Two ex-girlfriends had strange reading tastes. One loved misery memoirs,to the point where I realised she was both a masochist and a ghoul who relished the suffering of others. The other woman forced herself to read all of the short-listed books for the various literary prizes,even if she didn’t enjoy them. This was all part of her desire to improve herself,which was laudable,but didn’t offer a lot of enjoyment. Have you tried reading Keri Hulme’s ‘The Bone People’ ? It won the Booker Prize in 1986,even though it cries out for editing and guidance on some truly awful writing.

We all have different tastes,and people’s likes and dislikes are as diverse as their preference in food,music and the clothing that they wear. I’d never read an Amanda Hocking novel,have only read the first four of the Harry Potter series and a few of Stephen King’s novels – I prefer his straight dramatic stories such as ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘The Green Mile’ to his horror output. I gave up on ‘The Bone People’. Life is too short to force myself to read work that fails to engage me.

Turning down Amazon

An erotic romance author turned down an Amazon publishing deal. Aubrey Rose, successfully self-published writer, said that the offer from online giant was far less than she could make on her own.

After my limited dealings so far with Amazon,I know what she means. After publishing on Smashwords,which felt like doing business with a friendly neighbourhood corner shop,putting my books onto Amazon had all of the charm of swimming in a pool full of sharks,while covered in bacon !

Corporations don’t become huge by being nice.

Self-Publishing And Literary Awards

Why is self-publishing still scorned by literary awards?

As an increasing number of DIY authors climb the digital bestseller lists, book prizes will have to rethink their entry criteria

The modern writer has to be a hustler too

This is an honest and rather depressing appraisal of what it means to be a writer these days. Unbelievable how low the income is for a Booker Prize winning author. The title of this piece is what I’m finding to be true – it’s more about marketing and hustling what I’ve written than actually creating the work.