There was an interesting article in The Guardian newspaper today by Julian Baggini,about how sensitive writers are to criticism.
( some great stories on writing beneath this article,and do read the comments section )
One of the first pieces of advice that I’d give to anyone considering writing a book,is to develop a hide as thick as a rhinoceros. Everyone thinks that they’ve got a book inside them,but nobody considers what will happen when the book is released into the wild !
Being an author is setting yourself up as a target for criticism and rejection. These brickbats will come from friends,family,readers,publishers,book-sellers and critics. That’s if they say anything at all,for being completely ignored is the usual fate of a freshly published book. This is why writers welcome adverse criticism,for at least it means that someone has noticed you.
This article from the New York Times is worth a read. Even established authors suffer setbacks and get the blues,so if you’re just starting out difficulties can grow out of all proportion.
I constantly remind myself that if it doesn’t come naturally,then leave it. There’s little value in forcing something into being – things take on the flavour of their creator’s mood.
Setting a writing project aside for a while,and tackling something different,some poetry or a short story might free up the log jam in your mind + you’ll get a kick out of seeing a new piece of work flow freely from your imagination.
While approaching literary agents and publishers in the last couple of months,my memory drifted back to some old Peanuts cartoon strips.
I’m sure that we all recognise the situations below. Snoopy often begins his stories with the phrase ‘It was a dark and story night.’ This was coined by Edward Bulwer-Lytton,who was an influential English novelist of the nineteenth century.
He also came up with the phrases ‘the great unwashed’,’the pursuit of the almighty dollar’ and ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’.
He could wax lyrical as well,and as I get older turning into a silver wolf,I take comfort in his observation :
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.”