If Wishes Were Horses...

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
'If Wishes Were Horses' tends to float alone as a phrase these days, to describe something that we wish were true, though it derives from a 17th-century Scottish proverb-nursery rhyme:

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
If turnips were watches, I'd wear one by my side.
If "if's" and "and's" were pots and pans,
There'd be no work for tinkers' hands.

As unknown authors, seeking representation or wondering how to proceed with self-publishing, it's nice to daydream about what success would look like. Personally, if my Cornish Detective novels ever take off, I definitely wouldn't want them to reach the stratospheric heights of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, or even of any other phenomenally successful author who really can't write very well...insert your own detested bestseller here. After all, who wants to be so successful that you become a target for kidnappers, terrorists and extortionists?

I'd be happy for my books to sell in quantities that allowed me to live a comfortable low-key lifestyle, while writing more in the series, as well as publishing other forms—short stories, novellas, poetry and song lyrics—all of which I've written. I've always had my eye on my stories being turned into a television drama, and though I know I'd have little to no control over the finished product, that's the best route to popularisation and steady earnings.

Were my novels sold to an American film studio or television company, then I'm sure I'd be able to grit my teeth tight enough to tolerate their inevitable alterations to my characters. I'd hope that they keep the seaside and wilderness of my Cornish location, probably in Maine or Washington state. Favourable reviews and the respect of my peers would be good too.

It'd be great to meet some of my crime writing heroes, people like John Connolly, Michael Connelly, Lawrence Block, Andrea Camilleri and James Lee Burke. I'd like to please the friends who've encouraged my writing, by being successful. My novels are dedicated to them.

Note that I'm listing the pleasant aspects of success, not the irksome obligations, such as interviews, book signings, festival appearances (might be OK) and any hoopla that I need to indulge in via social media to make me irresistible! ;)

As I wander, with as much insouciance as I can muster, through the final stage of living, it would be great to have the feelings that appear in this poem by Sir John Betjeman

The Last Laugh

I made hay while the sun shone.
My work sold.
Now, if the harvest is over
And the world cold,
Give me the bonus of laughter
As I lose hold.


If wishes were horses, how would your writing endeavours pan out?

Do you want to be adored?

Could you stand being despised by the critics, but wildly successful in terms of earnings?

Would your book make a decent television series or a movie?

How do you feel about being a public face, a household name, instantly recognisable and trotted out to give opinions on things that aren't even to do with writing?

What about the reactions of your family and friends?

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[QUOTE="this poem by Sir John Betjeman

The Last Laugh

I made hay while the sun shone.
My work sold.
Now, if the harvest is over
And the world cold,
Give me the bonus of laughter
As I lose hold.

[/QUOTE]

Hadn't come across that poem before -- absolutely love it!
 
I always win whatever game I'm playing because I decide what game I'm playing! I guess that means that I'm good at denial and and at not caring about what people think when I don't like what they think.
I sent my novel to a mom group to get some reviews and while they were all eager for a free copy, one week later, they've all been too cowardly to actually comment on what I wrote. I pity cowards. If it is awful, have the guts to say why! Does that make me a masochist?
I think that I'm writing to let myself be seen in a way which the people closer to me are incapable of seeing. I write to see a new part of myself. To the people who know me personally, I am the pancake maker, the dog walker, the sister who is an echo of a buried past, the wife who should do more of everything but who doesn't, the disapproving daughter, the loyal daughter, that stupid American lady who's German is lousy.
I write because I'm bored! Housewives don't stray far from home and there is only so much food for thought on the internet. I've concluded that writing stories is like the brain eating itself. My brain is hungry! I want to make something happen before my food for thought is all eaten up by the nothingness that is happening in my life. Nothing happening is a great environment for kids, but gawd it is boring! Life at the physics lab used to provide the sort of entertainment I needed, but it was so hollow and pointless. I want to do something that has a point and I'd like to meet interesting people along the way. I want my English speaking circle of acquaintances to increase in size. Anything bad that could result in ten years time is irrelevant in the face of today.
I empathize! And well done for doing something useful & creative with your intellectual energy -- would have been so easy to fit in with the expectations of others and thereby inter your soul. But I prefer to think of writing as the brain giving birth to something deathless, rather than the brain eating itself.
 
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