Thursday 29 November 2018

Who, in our ruddy great word stew, writes like you, #DylanThomas?

Who, in our ruddy great word stew, writes like you, #DylanThomas?

I wrote the above in response to a tweet with a quote from Dylan Thomas written in 1944 courtesy of #The Dylan Thomas Centre: “should never write letters after lunch: I am whimsical, I am porky, there are peas in my ears & my smile is gravy.”
Yes, I know what I am doing here:

1.     Showing Off: Look how I can write!
2.     Trying to show that in the morass of words in which we authors stew, the only way to get our point across is to waggle our asses like crazy.
3. Be a unique stylist.

Is it showing off. Yes. And No. If we don’t get into the stew and try, like a dumpling, to bob to the top, how the Dylan’s do we compete? Less so if we are women with husband’s and children…but is this really still the upper case? In the thick of word stew, online, one reads of authors who are peddling books like 1p sweeties from the only sweetshop in town: these remarkable writers kept swimming through the thick stew until they reached ‘the other side,’ that 'all' writers want to reach. And what lies there? The cool salad of the publishing world, presided over, as it is by mythical Anna Wintourian beasts. These whimsies will accept and reject you like best friends in a British playground. Just because you get there does not mean you have ‘arrived.’ Many arrive, but how many actually scratch a living on the hallowed land before they are devoured, spat out and made once again to swim or just stew, in the stew.

Perhaps you are a writer reading this, in which case, I do not want to put you off, I want to cheer you on. There are many reasons to write, and the desire to make your mark is a noble one. But there are other, more noble ways, of competing in a saturated, and often not very tasty market, though a certain saltiness is required. Not least quietly persevering. There is something distasteful about self-promotion, so taste must surely come into it - one does not want to over-salt the stew. Don't be an egg-head with egg on your face, having over egged the pudding as I have just demonstrated with too many analogies - style, is as important as substance. Established authors leave the dirty work of selling to the marketing staff that work in their sometimes grubby houses, whilst the author looks on, face smugly rubbed ruddy clean by these nannies, champagne glass in hand. But believe you me, aspiring author or possibly just amused reader wondering what I am on about; do not feel bad about waving your oar. Just keep rowing – your words in particular – and particular they need to be, which requires much rowing or sentence after beautifully crafted, style-smashing sentence; and yes, wave your oar every now and again, someone may well take notice. Just don’t spend too much time on Twitter reading those stories of folk who got published after 3000 rejections – it may be a ploy to stop you writing and focus only on fighting – now there’s a thriller for you. Now, back to the stew…