On Writing

Every writer is different. Strategies which work for one, certainly can't work for all. Some wake with the dawn and write assiduously all morning. At noon they set down their wheatgrass shake, stretch in complacent pride before taking the dog out for a run. Others produce their best work in that precarious moment tucked between the tenth shot of cheap whisky and the floor. I'm not exactly sure where I fall on this continuum, but I can say that the following sentiments have been helpful to me.

  • Write what you know.
  • Writing is rewriting.
  • The first draft of everything is junk.
  • When the muse strikes, drop everything. She's a fickle mistress.
  • The more you write, the better you get. There's no way to get worse.
  • Simply put, writers write.
  • Basically, it comes down to these four words: Get In The Chair.

On Publishing

When all else fails, and the rejection letters are piling up, I try to remember that I am in good company. Here is what some publishers have said about writers far more talented than I:

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
    'an irresponsible holiday story'

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    'an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.' 

Watership Down by Richard Adams
    'older children wouldn't like it because its language was too difficult.' 

Catch — 22 by Joseph Heller
     'I haven't really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say... Apparently the author intends it to be funny — possibly even satire —but it is really not funny on any intellectual level ... From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.' 

Animal Farm by George Orwell
    'It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.'