Thursday, 19 March 2015

Writing - An author exposed

When you complete a story and decide to present it to be published Caleb Pirtle tells us that it is akin to walking into the publishers office naked and turning round slowly.

Image result for naked cartoon man

Self-publishing can be no less daunting. True you are not even getting to the publisher's office but you are putting your stories out there to be 'viewed'. I wrote the other day of the paranoia that writers live with and having someone reviewing your stories adds to that insecurity. Let me explain.

Image result for an author interviewed

One of the questions that authors being interviewed are often asked is - 'How much of you is in this story (character etc)?' 
I have heard authors trying to answer as honestly as they can, but never quite clarifying the level of self-involvement in their work. In my opinion the bottom line is everyone who writes something is pouring themselves, their interactions, their emotions and opinions into what they write. The difficulties arise from the nature of the characters and action written. If an author produces a story riddled with sex and violence, or a serial killer, or a super hero how can they admit to having put much of themselves into the story without generating interest from the appropriate authorities? So you hear evasive responses to the question because the situation isn't that simple.

The paranoia and feelings of being stripped bare come from the feeling that you have put so much of yourself into your stories and, for me, leads to a distinct reticence over reviews of my work. BUT in that lies a problem. As I wrote the other day, writers want to be better at what they do, and that will happen through practice but would be more rapidly achieved with the right sort of advice in reviews. However, reviewers need to be positive and sensitive.

Image result for psychiatrist's couch
For 'banker' read 'author'

It is necessary for a level of sensitivity because of the amount of the writer's life that is in the story. 
So when I self-publish my books I have avoided the standing naked in the publisher's office scenario, however, there is still the threat of a scathing review. When I used to sell paperback versions of my books I often asked people to complete a review on Amazon or wherever, but now I don't ask at all. Writing is something I'm fully involved in and being recognised as a writer is an ambition but negative criticism I'd rather not know about.

In some measure a justification for my insecurity is based  on the amount of me that is in my writing and that exposes my own problems with self-esteem. Of course there is another serious drawback to not receiving positive reviews - simply - a lack of success! What more can I say?

Selling books personally has a couple of positive results. Firstly, if people request a second or a third story; and secondly, when you receive comments on the story which are invariably positive as they are made face-to-face. 

I will never stop writing, in fact I don't think I could if I wanted to, so if you are considering buying one of my stories and fancy lodging a review - please be gentle!

God Bless