‘Everyone has a novel in them’.
How many times have we heard that said? It’s possible. Probable, even. The world is full of the blissfully ignorant, who will write their novel ‘one day’ (when they have time) and the woefully knowledgeable, who have a drawer full of rejections.
To write a novel is to find oneself in a gleefully negative community. Head-shakes and rueful smiles precede a useful little sound bite: ‘who do you know (have slept with/can blackmail/preferably all three) in the publishing business?’ or ‘JK Rowling had 3 million rejections, you know’ or ‘have you thought of bee-keeping instead? Fewer stings. Ha ha.’
At the other end of the scale is the urban myth of the bored bricklayer (brain-surgeon/dog-breeder) who wrote a thriller during a wet weekend in Wales and got a £billion advance and a 6-book deal.
So should the Regular Joseph/ine give up now? Of course not. And I have four good reasons, aka Craig, Ruth, Katie and Stuart. A week ago, I attended the book launch of Craig Smith’s, The Mile, a funny and serious novel about three friends, a nonagenarian runaway, and the Scottish referendum. Also accepted for publication is The Single Feather, by Ruth Hunt, which follows smart, sensitive Rachel trying to establish a new life as an artist who is not defined by her wheel-chair. Katie Hart wrote Finding Destiny, a fantasy novel for young adults in which time-travelling Alex needs to save his family and city from the evil owl, Dragonstar. It’s now being considered by a publisher, and next, another fantasy novel, Stuart White’s, Rise of the Kalax is currently being reviewed by an interested agent.
All four are talented, determined (and previously unknown) writers I’ve worked with over the past months… and I’m sure they would agree, that whilst talent is vital, it’s the determination alongside that has got each of them to this point.
There’s another person to mention. Gerry Coffey died last week. A remarkable man – kind, intelligent, very funny, some may say a little bit stubborn – who made a huge difference in so many ways over his ninety-odd years. He wasn’t a novelist but he was a storyteller of the best kind; his anecdotes, tall tales, and straight-to-the-point observations, will be remembered and quoted for a very long time. Gerry, it doesn’t do you justice (and you’d probably have a word or two to say about my grammar) but this blog (and Simon’s lantern) is for you.