‘At what stage in our writing journey do we think of ourselves as bona fide authors?’ This question arose during a recent discussion with writing friends. Leaving aside the obvious answer – a traditional publishing deal – which to my mind, is no longer the ‘magnet’ it used to be – given the self-publishing revolution presently taking place. Is it when we are writing and researching? When the final draft of our work has been proof read, edited and transformed into print and we take possession of the first copies? When we click on to our book page and see it on the websites of various online retailers? When the number of positive reviews rises steadily and book sales grow? Or when we see it on Library shelves and in the local bookshop? The answers varied, but the majority agreed that it was holding a physical copy of our book and seeing our name on the cover. A close second was seeing the book in the bookshops and on library shelves and the third was reading positive reviews. Having experienced all of the foregoing – I have begun to think of myself as a writer – not experienced and with a lot still to learn – but getting there. Imagine my surprise, when, out of the blue, the following email landed in my inbox a couple of days ago – from a former Tutor (and author) from my university days. I read Medieval Literature with Dr Roger Kendal. He, along with one other tutor, opened up the Medieval World for me. His words (especially the word novelist) have given me me an unexpected and highly appreciated sense of validation as a writer.
He writes – about ‘Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King’
‘Your Richard the Third Book. Just to say that I really enjoyed your handling of the historical material, novelistic detail and sweeping narrative. I thought your re-working of the known (and supposed) facts of Richard’s reign and crimes was well handled (using the monk figure) although at times this involved you in some long passages of background explication.
I loved your description of the Yorkshire landscape as seen from Middleham castle, as well as your description of the busy life of London (the City and Thames). These really added local colour to your narrative; they ‘grounded’ Richard and prevented him drifting off and becoming the ghost that your plot made him. It was daring to begin your novel with the Battle of Bosworth, which I was sure would be the natural climax! So much for the novelist who upsets the readers’s expectations! What followed really made me want to read on, though.
I look forward to reading your next novel Marla.’
…and so I now intend to take Sylvia Plath’s words seriously to heart and be a Writer!
‘…everything in life is writable about, if you have the outgoing guts to do it,
and the imagination to improvise.
The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.’