I won’t say I don’t have a specific topic to talk/whinge about; there are always things I can delve into and cast my
much-valued opinion on. However, this last month has been very writing-orientated due primarily to my rewriting of a large portion of my manuscript, which, if you didn’t know already, is entitled The Escapades of William Hart: Seas of Vengeance (I’ve taken to calling it Vengeance for short).
Said partial rewrite is going very swimmingly in light of a general lack of any real time. In just over a month, I’ve written 44,225 words (one hundred and forty-three pages in my preferred format of twelve-point Times New Roman with double-line spacing).
More important than any of those technical details is that it’s having the effect I’d most craved: it’s keeping me well and truly in the game. Dedicated readers of this blog will know I’ve been plagued with doubt as regards blogging and, more worryingly, writing in general as my poor mental health persists to weigh me down and hold me back. The disappearance of regular readers/interactors (as well as people I assumed were genuine friends) has had a heavy role to play in these doubts. It’s had me fiercely scrutinising my writing and myself and wondering whether either are good enough.
Well, if my partial rewrite of Vengeance is anything to go by—and please bear in mind I’m a harsh critic of my own work—I’m going to confidently declare that the answer to the former is a resounding ‘Yes’! I believe writing is my vocation. I believe my writing is good enough to call myself a writer.
That’s important. Over the years, I’ve realised there are a lot of benchmarks set by literary agents, publishers, critics, and, most annoyingly, peers whereby they place themselves in this faux-imperious position in proclaiming such diatribe as “You are/aren’t a true writer if you…”. They might as well say, “You aren’t a true writer unless I say so”. I don’t care how much success a person/agent/publisher has had; they are not in a position to set general benchmarks for writers. For me, writing is a way for a person to freely express themselves, whether it be through fiction or non. There are no rules. Present rules and you take away that freedom of expression. You cage a person with parameters and cause them to create work that’s dishonest.
It aggravates me that these parameters exist in order to present writers with a better chance of getting their work published. Just like we sell our souls and pretend to buy into the ethos of employers in the world of work, writers are now selling their souls to the ethos’ of agents and publishers just to improve their chances of publication. That’s sad. It’s sad that the beautiful art of literature has to be tainted in such a way.
I will always promote writing for writing’s sake. Yes, you run the risk of the market becoming saturated with crap—only look at the abundance of awful self-published titles available to read out there to realise that—though how does that differ from any other market out there? Let’s have it right; the market would be saturated with crap regardless: stuff that passed the benchmarks of agents and publishers but is still absolutely dreadful. We’ve all read books and wondered how the hell they made it past the editor’s desk.
Of course, it’s all just a matter of opinion (as per). That makes it no less important because opinion is ultimately what will see an author’s work published or not. Our work has to meet the approval—the positive opinion—of an agent or a publisher, and they all tend to work within set parameters. So, if we wish to be published, our work has to fall within the limits of these parameters.
It often feels like I’m on a one-man crusade to change this bourgeois mindset existent in the writing game. Maybe it’s the part of me that believes freedom of expression, speech, and thought should be the norm across the board. All I know is that writing is a huge mental release for most of us who do write. I’d rather see work published by those who are doing it because they have a genuine story to tell from the heart and mind than those who are entwining themselves around the yardstick and popular culture just to ensure a better chance of getting published. Fantasy seems to be the big thing in literature lately, but I said from the get-go that Vengeance will not slip into the magic-fuelled ghost stories we see in Pirates of the Caribbean. That’s not the product I’ve ever had in mind. I have written synopses for side stories with such things in mind; they’ll remain synopses until I see some movement where Vengeance itself is concerned.
I said there was no theme to this, yet it appears I naturally steered towards one. We all know by now that I love a good rant! Like my tagline says, “Stories, rants, and opinions from a local lad who just loves to write”.
So, back to my manuscript: work will continue. If my rate of production keeps up, I predict I’ll have the partial rewrite complete by June, and that’s even with the intermittent composition of blog posts. Because of my fervent quest to write, it has unfortunately taken away the time I’d usually set aside for reading the blogs of others. For this, I can only apologise and hope you’ll understand my position. I will catch up with your posts; you know who you are. I have to ride this wave of optimism while it’s there. You never know when the wave will crash to the shore and beach you!
By the time this article is posted, my beloved Stockport County may have won the Vanarama National League North and be on their way to the National League Premier after six years at this lowly level. I had to get that out there because I’ve been procrastinating over it an awful lot over the last few days. We play Chorley, who are second in the table and one point behind us, on Saturday (20th April) and my nerves are jangling all over the place. Luckily, that hasn’t prevented me from getting my writing done and nor will I allow it to. Bread and circuses will never keep me from my vocation.
(Update 22nd April AM: we didn’t win the league on Saturday and probably won’t now as we lost to Chorley. Me and my foolish optimism…)
(Update 22nd April PM: we beat Curzon Ashton 2–0 and Chorley lost 1–0 to Spennymoor Town. We’re back at the top of the league and if we win this coming Saturday we’ll win the league. As you were…)