The Writing Journey

If you are reading this blog, there is a likelihood that you are interested in writing, bored or just plain eccentric. If, like me, you have been sucked into a passion for writing, I’m hoping that my Sunday Blogs will provide some commonality on what can be a solitary preoccupation.

The World Wide Wait is heaving with sites examining writing from every possible angle – so it seems – and countless portals offering sure fire secrets to success in every area of writing, publishing and selling the fruits of your creative labours. But what I was unable to find when I set out upon my scribbling journey many moons ago was information on what not to do, and more to the point, what to expect if I followed the traditional advice. How, I wondered, does everyone else seem to move smoothly through the gears, whereas I always end up banging my head against a brick wall? Well, the reality – as I found out – is not to believe what I read. There are no short cuts to success. There aren’t even any long cuts.

Having spent decades on the other side of the fence in a parallel creative industry – much of my life has been spent working at the sharp end of the record industry – I found many similarities and just as many differences. Let’s start with a few similarities. Well, firstly it is important to make sure that your creative work is as good as you can get it before you present it to the industry. And even when you do, don’t assume that you will be judged on your ability and talent. The agent (manager) is in the game to make a living, and the companies he deals with want to shift product, ideally by the truckload. Moreover, they have to be in a buying mode and have funds and resources available. I always used to advise the artists I managed that it made not one jot of difference whether they were the new Beatles, if record companies were looking for another Taylor Swift, their demos would be rejected with hardly a listen. Indeed, rather than being surprised that the Beatles were turned down by every record company except EMI, the surprising thing is that George Martin at EMI had the vision to sign four long haired Liverpudlians at a time when the charts were dominated by solo artists crooning smoochy ballads. And so it is today. Record companies are driven by what the market is buying today and it takes rare vision to invest in something different that might be what the market wants tomorrow. In other words, most companies are staffed by decision makers who want to play safe by following, rather than take a risk and lead. So it is with publishing books. Copycats are good. Originality is bad.

I’ll examine other similarities in coming weeks, but also look at the differences as I recount my experiences over a decade or so developing my writing skills and putting my work in front of readers. So check in every Sunday for more episodes. I can’t claim to offer answers, but at the very least I hope I can help you avoid some of the pitfalls in what is, as I said at the outset, a solitary journey to becoming an author and stocking the shelves of that endangered species – the bookshop.

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