Here’s this week’s quote by Joseph C. Pearce (14/1/1926 – 23/8/2016). Wikipedia says that Joseph Chilton Pearce was an American author of a number of books on human development and child development. He is best known for his books, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Magical Child, and The Bond of Power: Meditation and Wholeness.
‘To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.’
When I started my first novel ‘The Porn Detective’ back in 2013, the words poured out of me for the whole 6 months it took to write it. I didn’t need to carry out any research, because of course I had lived as a porn detective myself, and imbued all the emotions and frustrations I had undergone years earlier onto my protagonist Frances. I was delighted that a London literary agency took a week to debate whether to represent me, and was convinced I had written the next bestseller.
I was wrong.
When the agency decided not to sign me up, I then sent off the manuscript to many other agencies, both home and abroad, who were listed in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. I had an excellent response. One agent wanted to read it again when I had re-written the whole thing, as she agreed with the first agency that I needed to pare the story down to just a few events rather than have something happening in each chapter. I needed to begin the novel amidst some kind of conflict, and she also stated that I must not kill off any of the characters, as they were all on a journey. I decided she was wrong, and that I was quite happy with the manuscript as it was.
Again, I was wrong.
I self-published the book late in 2013. To be fair, it did sell quite well, probably because readers were intrigued by the title. On Amazon.com are currently 20 reviews, with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5, and so on the whole I think readers enjoyed the book. However, as the next few years passed and I learned more about writing a story, I realised that the agents were right. I needed to immerse the characters in a situation right at the beginning, and follow this situation through rather than adding too many more. I also learned that readers prefer characters to still be alive at the end of the story after either resolving or not resolving the situation.
It took me 3 years to figure out for myself just how wrong I had been. I am glad I decided to listen to others with a deeper knowledge of the craft, and not automatically assume that what I had written was the correct way of going about it. In this case Joseph C. Pearce’s quote doesn’t really apply to me this week, but all I can say to this is that it probably applies when you have learned enough in the first place about writing a good story, and this takes time.
Now I am enjoying re-writing The Porn Detective, which I hope to publish next summer. Hopefully those who read the first edition will be able to see some improvement! Any interested ARC readers for next year are welcome to leave their details in the comments section, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks.