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Amusement Which Author Would You Be?

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
For the last two weeks, I've been lost in the intricacies of editing the first novel I wrote. Using the Word Search function to track down multiple uses of 'this', 'thought' and 'realised' feels less like writing and more like looking for a needle in a haystack.

I've edited The Perfect Murder countless times before and it's all been at this nit-picking level. It's hard to appreciate how I've improved the manuscript, but I know this tedious work needs to be done. I went to bed last night feeling rather disenchanted. I relax by reading before turning the light out and have three crime novels on the go at the moment. One of them, The Guilty is written by a serving Canadian police officer. He knows his stuff when it comes to procedure, but someone should buy him a thesaurus as he repeatedly uses the same verbs, adjectives and adverbs. I groaned when I saw he'd written the word 'little' four times in two pages. Did anyone at Simon & Schuster edit this? I gave up on reading it.

I'll return to editing my manuscript, reassured that my book will be a damned sight better prepared than a well-reviewed published novel!

It's easy to become disheartened as a writer, and I've previously posted about the doubt that afflicts us and the resilience we need to get through.

After I've completed editing, I'm back on the querying and self-promotion trail, which I'm not looking forward to...but, there's no choice.

I've decided to adopt a fresh attitude to my endeavours, inspired by the tongue-in-cheek lyrics of an old Don McLean song, which was the earworm I woke up with this morning. Instead of nervously seeking validation for my writing and trying to be an interesting chap through blogging and social media posting, I'll be viewing myself as totally irresistible!

I don't know if this will work, but why worry, when I can be happy? o_O

What do you think?

We all need a Lucy in our lives:


Hi Paul, I'm going to ask you a few difficult questions. I'm not trying to be flippant or clever, and I'm certainly not trying to be aggressive or dismissive, but if you find the writing process so tortuous (which I infer from many of your posts that you do), why do you continue? Life is short. If writing brings you so little happiness, why bother? Why not do something that brings you more joy?
Sorry, I've been a bit harsh, given that you ended the post above with a positive charge. It's great to see you aiming for a fresh approach. I do hope it works out for you. Best of luck! :)
Validation is very nice. It's nice to hear that you've done a good job, made a great job of something, whatever it is. There's pride and joy in that of course, but I do what I need to do. I do what I can do, and do what I want to, within my own operating constraints, and the world doesn't owe me a thing. But I am also a world. A world entire and so are we all.
I think of Keats.
I'll tell you a secret. Well, okay, it's not really a secret, but it's made a world of difference to me in how I view this writing thing I keep doing, even when the horrible doubt creeps in.

I've stopped comparing myself to others.

That's it. Simple. Easy. I had to, or I wouldn't have survived the disappointments. I've just stopped doing it.

Instead, I focus on making my manuscript the best it can be, by learning my craft, and doing all those tedious self-edits things that I consider to be part of "writing." For one thing, I wouldn't trust anyone else to do it for me. I'm way too much of a control freak to give it up. For another, I enjoy that part. It's another chance to make my work shine. I've always considered the editing phase part of writing, and it's all fun to me.

Writing is not work to me. It's a chance to escape into a world I created and live there for a while. It's a chance to make characters I created come alive. I've never understood concepts like writer's block, or why people find writing unpleasant. That's foreign to me. This is my passion. I'd keep doing it even if I never made another dime. (And if I don't release a book soon I may not make another dime. LOL!)

But seriously, I encourage anyone who's stuck in the "This is shit. How is this person making so much money writing this garbage?" phase to STOP. Just STOP. If you come across a book you don't care for, don't keep reading it. Or, if you do finish it, use it instead to see what does work, in case you can incorporate any of that into your own writing. Someone saw value in it or it wouldn't have made it past an agent, past an editor, and past an acquisitions meeting. Instead of pointing fingers at all the things wrong with it, either toss it aside or use it to help your own writing.

Rather than comparing the time you spend or don't spend on social media with how much time another author does or does not, spend as much time on it as YOU feel comfortable with. No more, no less. And don't even pay attention to what anyone else is doing.

If you come across a blog post another author made that makes you wonder if they fell on their head as a child, don't read it. If there's something useful in it that you can use, use it, but otherwise just scroll past it and ignore it.

You get the picture. You're intelligent writers. :)

Changing my attitude in this way helped me tremendously. Nothing good ever comes of comparing ourselves to others because no two set of circumstances are identical. We don't know what's gone on before, or is currently going on behind the scenes. And even if we did know, we can't control it. We can only control how we respond to it.

Envy is a horrible monster that eats away at us from the inside. But the best part is that it's never too late to banish that nasty emotion from our internal monologue.

I hope this helps. :)
Hi Paul, I'm going to ask you a few difficult questions. I'm not trying to be flippant or clever, and I'm certainly not trying to be aggressive or dismissive, but if you find the writing process so tortuous (which I infer from many of your posts that you do), why do you continue? Life is short. If writing brings you so little happiness, why bother? Why not do something that brings you more joy?

I adore writing...nothing has brought me more joy. What I'm less keen on is editing, which I agonise over too much, not due to being stymied by major rewrites, but more because I tend to get lost in making microscopic changes of words. The alterations probably wouldn't be appreciated by 99.9% of readers, and I'm starting to think that I should cease my tinkering and get back to querying. Overall, it's not the polishing that sells a story, it's whether someone influential in publishing thinks it's a concept that will appeal to readers.

I've noticed a decline in editing standards recently, and it's particularly noticeable in the later books of a series, which may have been read by someone at the publisher as a story, but little copy editing, developmental editing or even proofreading has taken place. It feels more like they've looked at the sales figures for the previous titles and let the manuscript through to the printers on that basis. If I'm right, then why am I striving for perfection?

I don't really have envy in my makeup about anything, certainly not publishing, as I know how hard it is to make a living from writing. Rather, I sometimes feel bewildered at what does succeed...and some of that success is down to the arcane art of marketing—which I'm in the throes of trying to learn.

It's better to think that everybody loves me, rather than everybody hates me. Perhaps confidence will carry the day.
A little confidence goes a long way.
It's the nervous dog that bites.

Have you tried Bloodhound Books with your Cornish Detective, Paul?
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Amusement Which Author Would You Be?

Writing Backstory