Tuesday, 24 February 2015


Dear Readers,

I'm back to my blog, from a double dose of winter flu that started before Christmas.

Thank you for being patient.

This morning, while listening to Breakfast Television, a well known author, (I will refer to him as Author X), was being interviewed on the sofa about his success in writing. He said something that struck me with a very large ? as to whether he was right or wrong, or if he was just wrong to say such a thing... Because it is the sort of thing that is not at all inspirational particularly to young or new writers. Even published, hard working writers might take offence at such a suggestion...

He said that being able to write is one thing, but writing a page-turner is a God-given gift.

This implies that you've either got it, or you haven't. And if you don't have that gift, you're not likely to be able to write a page-turner.

This further implies that if you're that good an author, you can't take the praise for effort yourself.

It is a well know fact that all manner of books get published, for all sorts of reasons, whether they end up selling well or not. Good books, Bad books, and Ugly books... Quality books as well as trashy ones. Reasons for this include - Luck - being in the right place at the right time. Knowing the right people. Or, a popular genre. Then there is the suddenly fashionable - books that are fast flying off the shelves because there has been a high marketing spend, or the author has hit a note and word has gone viral.

An book buying epidemic is what the publishers are looking for more. But they never really know what it is. Even if they think they do, the market saturates and disappoints them. And they are in search of some "fresh, new voice" again. But they will only know what they want when they see it.

So often we search the book shop shelves, and wonder... Why??? Who wants to read ... that trash?
But someone does. Many do in fact, which is why books we see as trashy or formulaic get chosen to be published in favour of others which might be - more sensible, better written, more informative, etc. We often forget that Publishers are businesses. And business exists to make a profit. Also, they cannot exist unless they are making profit. So it is about money. They must ask, can they justify the cost of publishing a particular book?

To return to Author X on the TV this morning - He was saying that writing is hard, but even if you can write well, it is another matter being able to write a page-turner. He said that writing a page turner, was a gift from God.

This is what has bothered me all day.

Because most things that are done well, and close to perfection, is hard.

Success in any field rarely comes without 80% perspiration.

Besides, life itself is a gift from God. We do not owe our very existence to ourselves, because we created none of it, not even a grain of hair on our heads.

I have to conclude that Author X is quite right, but only if you see all of success as hard work. We are all different, and some things come easier to one person whilst another thing comes easier to another person. Baking brownies, for example, comes easier to some, whilst others can never achieve a gooey centre with crispy edges and a crackly top. Could it be that they might need some help, or a different recipe, or time to practice?

Same with writing. Some need more time to practice, and to learn how to do it better.

Could it be that writing is one of those things that people think should come naturally? Taken for granted? Like so many other things we have all around us - food we eat, cakes we bake, clothes we wear, books available free in libraries? Could it be that we take these things for granted, along with anything else creative?

Could it be that we have become accustomed to not giving credit to people who create the standard things we see every day? Why is it that so often creativity is overlooked - passed over as simple, even simplistic? Could it be that we are ignorant of what it takes to create a piece of work such as a whole novel? The time, and labour? The hundreds of hours?

I wonder why do we acknowledge that a haute couture dress-designer's time is valuable? That their clothes will cost a fortune. Hundreds and thousands of pounds or dollars for one dress. If that same dress were made by our clever Mom or next door neighbour, we might think of it as having emotional value but we wouldn't value it as highly in terms of cash, as the one with a designer label! Why?

I wonder if the general public of readers really believe that writing a page-turner is just a God-given gift, and therefore a writer should not profit from it?

That is so wrong.

The author would have spent hundreds of hours producing a novel that is acceptable to the publisher, and marketable to the reader, only achieving pence per book. 

It takes a lot of time, much effort, and costs money to write one novel. 

I am reading one at the moment that is a page turner that took 11 years to write. It won the Pulitzer Prize 2014, but that was never a certainty when it was published. 

If the author was relying on just a natural gift to write a page turner, why did it take 11 years to write?