(Gosh, what we do is so valued, isn't it).
I was so close to buying the book for the sheer chutzpah, but, in the end, even fifty pence in the hands of these talentless parasites is fifty pence too many so I left it.
It reminded me though of the get-rich-quick landscape we're in.
Like San Francisco in 1849, they came from far and wide to the Yukon to make their fortunes in gold, shining nuggets seemingly lying around for the taking like pebbles on a beach.
For the first few rugged pioneers, there may have been a nirvana, but for the bandwagon jumpers following in their wake, there weren't even pebbles left to take home as souvenirs.
In today's Yukon Gold Rush publishing landscape (even though most of us are now in the disappointed souvenir hunter stage), the most consistent advice I have been given is this:
"The Best Form Of Marketing Is Your Next Book"
Naturally, people have taken this advice to heart.
a) No-one seems content to write a stand-alone novel any more.
b) The great Paul Auster said this week he is happy with a page a day: one author on my timeline wrote six novels last year and is planning six novels in 2015. WTF?
c) "Novels" are shorter than they have ever been because of this advice. I saw someone marketing a "novel" of 48 pages the other day for $2.99. 48 pages.
I'd need pages as long as a roll of Laura Ashley Orchid Green Floral Wallpaper to justify that price. The author has about fifteen similarly sized "novels" and I am positive that she does this partly because of that advice above.
Another consequence? No-one marinates a novel any more.
I knew a pubbed author - a very good one - who is always being set mad deadlines and she manages to get her work in with about six minutes to go after much angst, and many tears before bedtime.
The publisher than bangs out the book a week or so later. Because of the pre-ordering craze, all the minutae (editing, proofing, covers) is already in hand, so there is nothing stopping the publisher from getting it out there as soon as possible.
What about the marination?
How many of you do this?
How many of you complete the first draft of a novel and then store the manuscript on a memory stick for a month or so in a dark cupboard and forget it ever existed?
Marinating in its own juices, as it were.
Before today's publishing industry Gold Rush started, this was common for a novelist to do.
Not so much nowadays. You may be one of those people with multiple projects on the go, (On the Wizard's Cauldron, I have interviewed a young lady who has ten or eleven books on the go at any one time), in which case, it won't be a problem, but the compulsion (both internal and external; the latter especially for trad pubbed authors at the mercy of publishers) to get the book out there in the market can be overwhelming.
Try to resist it.
Marinate your novel on completion for a month.
Here's how. It's simple.
a) Copy your first draft to a memory stick.
b Eliminate all traces of the manuscript from your usual laptop/PC/Typewriter,
c) Stick the memory stick in a cool dark place and completely forget about it.
Go on holiday. Have a wild affair with your next door neighbour. Lose the kid's inheritance on the horses. Paint the fence. Read. Run. Gym. Get a job...(let's not go too far, Marky - Ed).
Do anything for the month except touch your MS.
Marinating, among other things;
1) tells you whether your draft is any good or not. You will soon know on that next read, after your manuscript has been left to stew for a bit.
2) establishes critical distance between you as creator and you as reader. These are two different perceptual conditions and you really need to approach a completed first draft in the mindset of the latter.
3) enables you to proof read before a proper proofer gets involved (will save money).
4) provides the incentive and the courage for you to be ruthless. The emotions you have for the characters will have dissipated in a month and you can be hard and savage, which every good novelist needs to be.
|Lesley Duncan as the NY Time Critic Tabitha in "Birdman"|
The film "Birdman", which I saw this Saturday, has a portrayal of a theatre critic which left me stunned. I won't say anything more, because it is worth watching, but when I came home, I realised that the only critic that matters at the first draft stage is YOU and you need to be harder on yourself than ANY critic out there.
To do that, you need to marinate.
My latest work, Project X, which I completed on New Years Day, is a work I love but I'll let you know how it really reads in one months time when my emotions for the three principal characters have died down.
At the minute, it runs at 68k, but I know 3k of that is cellulite, jowls, floppy cheeks, divots, dimples and belly fat that simply needs to come out. It needs excision. I know this to be true and I need the courage to do it.
Marination will help me grow the balls I need. I strongly recommend it.
And with 175000 novels written in November for NaNoWriMo, I guess there's no real urgency to get your work out there? It's not as if readers are going to starve!
Let that rush die down a but. With all this relatively average (by definition) Yukon Gold Rush output coming onstream in the next three months, why not make sure your work is bloody brilliant in the interim?
The absolute best IT can be. Not YOU, but IT, the manuscript you have created, which by now, has probably developed a life of its own.
Take your time.
Build some distance.
Keep your patience
And create something wonderful
Time on your hands? Some other UK reads for you to get your teeth into/follow, with information from extremely knowledgable sources.
Terry Tyler on Talent
Phil "Literastein" Conquest
Bodicia - A Woman's Wisdom
Boy, am I glad the holidays are over. Did you know the Christmas and New Year break is Harvest Festival for Suicides? It spikes like a cardiac jolt on Christmas Day, by all accounts.