Thursday, 14 January 2016

Writing - Amateur or Professional

I have always been the anally retentive sort of person who if he begins to read a book has to finish it. So many wasted hours! Well I've matured in that respect. 
As I have only been writing six or seven years I am in a similar 
place with pieces that I begin. However, I am not the only one that has had to consider how they feel about what they are writing.


Since the beginning of December I have been trying to write a story based upon a disaster that occurred in Sunderland in 1883 that resulted in the deaths of 183 children. It has been slow work, research heavy and I haven't been 100% sure that I had the correct tone and pace. I've written 10 000 words but last weekend began to realise that the subject probably didn't give me the stimulation to produce a full length novel.

Yesterday I shelved The Magic Show!

Then I saw the above quote reportedly from Agatha Christie and began to consider my position as a writer. 
In some ways the answer is very simple and screams AMATEUR from a number of points of view.

I haven't had professional training.

I don't have a conventional publisher.

I am not making money out of the exercise.

I don't have perfect grammar.

If I don't want to write about a subject I don't have to.

The above, on the surface of it, would suggest that I perhaps shouldn't bother but for me that is the nature of the art. So why go on?

I've had some basic grammatical training and as you write, skills develop.

I have self-published all of my work but some conventionally published authors are joining this method of producing their books.

I do make small amounts of money and have a body of readers who have been quite loyal.

With regards to subject choice - in my opinion, this is what helps to generate writer's block. If you are being pushed to produce a book in a given time or of a particular type, I can't think of anything more de-motivating.

So I've shelved one book and gone back to Steele. In fact since completing and publishing Flight into Secrecy I always have had two ideas in my mind. One was the Magic Show but the second, which is of a similar type to the last Steele novel, is based upon the side issues that go unanswered on the terrorist attack in the USA on 9/11. The provisional title is Building 7.

Image result for Building seven

This story will have similarities to Flight in that it is based on real incidents and also there seems to be a reality gap between the official information and the reality of what occurred. In writing this type of story I am attempting to bring some colour while exploring the facts of the case.

In a sense it is a part of my make-up to cast doubt on official pronouncements and that is based upon watching and reading news from a variety of sources and identifying factual anomalies. We are in the hands of the media and those that govern what is given public airing, or not as the case may be.

The difference in writing the Steele novel was quite surprising. I produced 1200 words in no time but felt so much more driven when I was working. When you have created a successful character it is unsurprising that there are positive feelings generated as you write action in which that character is involved.

In conclusion I think that the advent of self-publishing has had a number of effects. It is my belief that the margins between pro and am have been seriously blurred. I think that it has allowed greater numbers of people access to a great art and as such believe there is nothing wrong in that. The snobbery of conventional publishing and the exclusive awards has been rattled and I applaud that.
So if you want to write - do it without labelling yourself as professional or amateur but as a writer.

God Bless