Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Second thoughts

When I sat down at the keyboard this morning I had already mapped out in my mind the arguments I would marshal in support of another typically downbeat thesis propounding the futility of blogging as a mechanism for any aspiring writer who wishes to reach a wider audience.

I planned to begin my exigesis by explaining, in the starkest possible terms, that the best any ingenue with literary aspirations can hope to achieve in this medium is to reach out to a small circle of similarly unrequited, slightly desperate, albeit desperately nice, publishing virgins.

And just as I was about to begin my assault on my readers' senses my fingers froze above the keyboard.

Two things happened to undermine the certainty of my proposition.

Firstly, I found myself wondering why I appeared to dislike nice people so much.

Was it because, I wondered, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, this seething mass of niceness is to a woman a body of such relentless optimism, repeatedly taking issue in the Comments section of my blog, with my own easy pessimism? Could it possibly be the case, in other words, that I was wrong in my enduring negativity?

And that thought led me to question exactly why was I so reluctant to be drawn into the circle of aspiring writers that has gradually evolved into a sort self-sustaining life-support sytem, a double helix safety net woven out of the DNA of all those nice-but-unpublished would-be JK Rowlings drifting hopefully around the blogosphere?

In search of an answer I looked back on my own long and undistinguished career as an unpublished author whose literary achievement reached its apogee with a mildly encouraging rejection slip from Secker & Warburg circa 1973.

Nostalgically I recalled my long-forgotten youthful determination to dedicate myself to my muse. My naive resolve to remain unrecognised and neglected for as long as it took, a lonely genius starving in a garret, a martyr to my art, bravely churning out manuscripts that no-one would read until after my death, when my brilliance would finally be recognised by a remorseful, not to say repentant, world. Never mind the fact that in all the years since I have never once set foot inside a garret. And the nearest I've ever come to starving is on those rare occasions when I've been late home for a meal.

No. Reluctantly I have been forced to conclude that my dislike of nice people has a less idealistic cause. Envy. Because I have looked into my heart and I know, despite the facade, I am not one of them. Ah well. No-one's perfect I suppose and some of us are more imperfect than others.

So on reflection, if you are an aspiring writer looking for help with your vocation my advice to you would be to seek out the comfort of like-minded strangers. There's a load of them listed on the blogroll beside this post. They're without exception a nice bunch and their support may be just what you need to clear the next hurdle in your writing career.

I said at the beginning of this post that there were two things that gave me pause for thought. While I was vacillating over what I was going to say at the beginning of this post I wandered off into the blogosphere in search of inspiration. And I found it too - right here. Not for the first time the estimable L Lee Lowe stopped me right in my tracks. Lee has recently published online her YA fantasy novel "Mortal Ghost" and already it's been downloaded more than a thousand times. A thousand times! That's incredible.

In fact, it's more than incredible - it's truly inspirational. What it means is that at long last the internet is delivering on its early promise and that anyone can become a real, proper, widely-read writer without being forced to find a traditional publisher.

So if you have the talent and are prepared to work hard - and maybe use your blog to get some invaluable feedback and support - there really are no barriers left any more.

And that should give you a nice warm feeling. Just like it gives me.

1 comment:

  1. Aaaah. Hmmmm. Though I still don't like the 'n' word.