Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Don't make the same mistake twice.....

In all probability the simplest error in your otherwise brilliant submission/competition entry will be drastic.  The chance of a mistake contributing to your success isn’t very likely. However, I’ll bet it’ll happen one day. After weighing up the odds, I’d take a risk and have a flutter. A little whoops-a-daisy could be the gateway to success. It might even make you rich. Intrigued? Then read on....

Most writers are blinded by the sheer genius of their work to notice a teeny-weeny error. Their minds are full of complex plots, stimulating dialogue, murder and espionage. A dedicated author can deliberate for days over a single connective. They spend hours navigating peaks and troughs. A writer can become so close to their creations that they’ll start talking about every fictional character as if they actually exist. In this state of instability we can’t expect them to notice a ‘T-shit’ instead of ‘shirt’. It’s easy to miss the ‘twat’ that should have been ‘tat’ or that slippery ‘crap’ which was meant to be ‘carp’. Come on – give them a break. The vast majority of writers need a decent proof-reader.

Not all unpublished authors have the money to pay for editorial services. Ask a favour from your writing group peers or a smart friend, but choose someone you trust. You don’t want them blurting out every embarrassing mistake you’ve ever made.

Mind you, I’m not afraid to admit my mistakes. I’ll be forever indebted to the man who kindly informed me that my main character had been hovering when I’d created a scene in which she should have been hoovering. It caused great hilarity when he read that my levitating protagonist had become irritated by a flyaway fridge which she had somehow managed to flick from her face.

Some of my cringing mistakes have come alarmingly close to publication, but by sheer coincidence, fate stepped in and saved the day. I might have failed to notice past mistakes, but I’ll never make them again. I’ve come full circle in my writing career - right back to square one, but I’ve learned many lessons.  

The main lesson is not to rush into finding an agent. I used to naively think that it was essential to secure representation, even if you had not perfected your first draft. On the contrary, you must concentrate on creativity in those early days. You don’t want the menace of conflicting advice at this stage. Choose a genre that suits you and become an expert in that area. Retain your positive attributes and work on the negatives. Attend courses and festivals. Brush shoulders with people in the know. Exchange tweets and share Facebook posts. Create a substantial portfolio before you begin the submission process. Once you decide to step into this minefield: get introduced to agents, attend pitch sessions and read agent profiles to make sure they are right for you. Most importantly, choose someone you can trust by seeking recommendations from peers.

In the New Year, I’ll send my revised novel off to the third agent on my list. I might even chase up number two. There’s no rush. So what’s the betting that I’ll get my work published in 2015? I don’t need a pie chart to demonstrate that the odds are stacked up against me. However, I’m not obsessing over that probability.  

Imagine one giant dessert with plenty of fruit and dollops of cream - make it clotted – the richer the better. Add several triangular sandwiches without crusts: cream cheese, cucumber and mint. We’re enjoying afternoon tea at Betty’s, as opposed to making do with what’s left over in the fridge. I’m taking my time. I don’t want to get too full, too quick and end up with an agonising stitch. I’m going to enjoy this moment for as long as it takes to recharge the batteries. You could say I’m bulking up, in preparation for another fight. The trials will continue, but I’m all set to take a different path. Mistakes can make you very rich indeed.


No comments:

Post a Comment