Becoming Legendary: Join a Gang!

Revising your first draft

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
Any writer should want to become a legend, if the original Latin meaning of the word is taken into account, which is 'Things which ought to be read.'

Unfortunately, 'legendary' is one of those words, like 'awesome' and 'iconic', which are misused—spouted out by witless commentators, who are describing something that's merely impressive.

For writers wishing to become memorable in the pantheon of literature, it helps to boost one's image if you're a part of a brotherhood, group, movement or set; secret sisterhoods have provided support for female writers.

The secret sisterhood of women writers, from Austen to Woolf

The Bloomsbury Set included writers, artists, philosophers and intellectuals. In the early twentieth century, the Algonquin Round Table was a group of writers, critics, actors and wits who met at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. These days, the best-known member was Dorothy Parker, whose wisecracks have lasted a century.


Other groups of writers who've supported and inspired one another, include The Inklings, whose most famous members were J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and Stratford on Odéon which was what James Joyce nicknamed a loose grouping of authors who congregated around the two Shakespeare & Company bookshops in early twentieth century Paris. Other members included Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.

More recently, and in my own writing genre of crime, Killer Women has 22 female novelists as members, with many more associates.

I'm not sure that the musical group Rock Bottom Remainders will ever achieve legendary status in the world of rock, but you can't deny that they've had some illustrious authors strutting their stuff, including Stephen King, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, Mitch Alborn and Barbara Kingsolver.

Rock Bottom Remainders - Wikipedia

As humourist Dave Berry, who plays lead guitar in the band, said, "We play music as well as Metallica writes novels."

Sometimes, becoming legendary as an author is done in a sneaky way, not necessarily with the cooperation of other writers. Novelist Richard Condon cleverly and secretly invented a classic book called The Keener's Manual from which he took verse quotes to use as epigraphs for his own stories—though he wrote the quotes himself.

This quote appeared in Winter Kills:

Spring seduces,

Summer thrills,

Autumn sates,

Winter kills.

Minutes trudge,

Hours run,

Years fly,

Decades stun.

That such a manual existed puzzled many writers and readers, including me, who fruitlessly searched for a copy of it! :rolleyes:

To my great surprise, in 2008 another author, R. J. Ellory, used a 'quote' from it, as an epigraph in the first edition of his crime novel A Simple Act of Violence. He might well have done so without permission, as later editions have used a quote from Benjamin Disraeli. His subsequent history of foul play showed that he's childishly deceitful. His fall from grace mystifies me, for he's a great writer of thrilling stories.

RJ Ellory's secret Amazon reviews anger rivals

Are any of you members of local writing groups?

If you started a gang of authors, what would you call it?

Perhaps, we of the Colony will become notorious celebrated for our literary achievements one day!

I don't actually have time today to explain to you what's wrong with how you described The Algonquin Roundtable. But Benchley and Parker were some of the first writers for New Yorker Magazine. Every now and then I read something which says they started the publication. Edna Ferber was a member. She wrote many novels. Woolcott was in a movie called The Man Who Came to Dinner. Harpo Marx came and went. It would simply take too much time to look up and report on all of the contributions of the Roundtable. What you can be sure of is that it's likely you've encountered their work.

I hope and pray my words on this message forum will last an eternity.

I know lots of writers and I've been a member of lots of writing groups. Writing groups are one things and serious writers are quite another. The two do not necessarily intersect. They can, but the probability of such a thing happening is slight.
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Revising your first draft

35 Dolls