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Do you ever think that you might be the equivalent of the joke acts on the X-factor?

(29 Posts)
IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Mon 26-Aug-13 21:51:18

You know the ones, can't sing, can't act, can't dance but they come along to the auditions, wait in the queue and when they get their 2 minutes everyone but them knows they are shit.

They think they are good, they think Simon et al are plain wrong, but they are not good. They are bad, very, very bad and they need to give up, but they can't see it.

I only started writing a year ago. I was awful at English at school, I'm dyslexic and I didn't even do Eng Lit at GCSE and I have it in my head that I can write a book. Sometimes I think well, why not? Someone has to write all the books, and other times I think my Dad is going to punch Simon Cowell for not appreciating that singing off key and out of tune makes me the next Lady GaGa.

How do you know? Do you just wait to be laughed off stage?

TunipTheUnconquerable Sat 31-Aug-13 12:31:58

'they look baffled as to whether that means that its finished or not. I don't know either!'

Ha ha, yes.
The other one that confuses me is 'I've finished the book and now I'm editing it' and I never know whether people mean:
- 'I've rewritten it 9 times and now I'm doing the final check' or
-'I finished the first draft and now I'm rewriting over and over again' or
-'I've got to the end of my first draft and now I'm checking for typos and then I will send it off because I don't realise it is normal to rewrite'.

Or the 'I did 13 drafts' thing and you don't know whether they mean they rewrote the whole thing 12 times each time making a number of passes or that they rewrote twice, each time making a pass for adverbs, a pass for clunky dialogue, a pass for typos, etc.

icepole Tue 29-Oct-13 22:41:43

I know this is an old thread but I really relate to it. In fact I wrote a blog post about it today. I really fear that I wasting time. My own and other people's. I don't mind wading through years of being crap if at the end of it I can produce something worthwhile. But what if I never, ever do? What if I am better spending my time on - I don't know - applying for the x-factor? Or just cleaning my house?

ninah Tue 29-Oct-13 22:56:37

clean your house? are you nuts? I console myself that even if I've wasted years writing unpublishable books I've managed to evade the equivalent amount of housework.
I could still change my mind and clean it tomorrow, and you'd never know. It's not like my duster arm's going to drop off.
Want do you want? shiny worktops or a paperback?
Actually, I'm over wanting a paperback. I just want to get better. And not at dusting.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 30-Oct-13 10:06:50

(also, rofl @ being able to change your mind and clean your house tomorrow if you want!)

Icepole, I wish I could print you out a massive, official-looking document signed by Ninah, me, everyone on here and all the writers I have ever met, which would be a License To Write. Because I feel like you're too ready to believe you shouldn't be doing it. Actually, if you want to, you should. That's all there is to it. My knitting tension will never be even and my mum's watercolours will never make the Royal Academy, but no-one tells us we shouldn't do it, and she doesn't worry she's wasting her art teacher's time. Writing costs nothing. It squanders none of the earth's resources.

If you enjoy it and want to do it, if it gives you any kind of satisfaction or makes you see the world in a different way, if you have voices in your head squeaking 'I am a character! Write me!' doesn't that mean you're not wasting your own time?

As for the time of other people, you're not tying people up and forcing them to read your work. If they are doing it for you it's because they want to. Anyone who has critiqued other people's work will have learnt a lot from doing it - the amount I have got out of reading writing that doesn't quite work and figuring out why it doesn't work is tremendous. Do NOT worry about wasting their time.

And worthwhile.... what's worthwhile? A lot of people don't think anything James Herbert ever wrote was worthwhile. Other people would say the same about Hilary Mantel. I like them both. Who gets to judge? How would we ever know? I have a friend who writes funny poems. She has no plans to get them published but they make us laugh. She recently dug out and shared an incredible poem her mum wrote after a rape 40 years ago which completely nailed something very important. Having been hidden away for decades we shared it and were moved by it. Worthwhile - I should say so.

Ninah - I think the shift from focusing on publishing a book to focusing on writing better is very important. I feel the same as you and once I had made that shift my writing really started to grow.

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