Writing for pleasure is not everybody’s cup of tea. Indeed many find that writing a simple letter is a chore; writing for gain on the other hand is what your psyche makes it. I have read of famous authors whose output is only a few hundred words per day, hashed and re hashed for perfection.; but that is not the problem for those in it for a livelihood, they have the problems of trying to obtain recognition, getting published, and selling sufficient books to make a living. I have been writing short stories, novels, articles and even treasure hunts for almost 60 years. In the early days I tried getting novels accepted either by literary agents or publishers, but found that the chore of constantly sending the material off and only getting a standard rejection in return too tiresome. I was earning my living in another field, and so instead of persisting in trying to get published, I would write another novel. Sophie liked them, she thought they were as good as or in some cases marginally better than what graced the shelves in our local library, not high literature, just entertainment. Today it is even harder to obtain a publisher willing to risk promoting a new writer. ‘Names’ and journalists are ahead in the queue, and persistence needs to be almost limitless.
My writing has been fun for me, because I have used the basis of a novel to solve a problem, to find a way out of difficulty. I have written 15 novels, without getting any published. The last one was on the subject of cardboard city, those poor unfortunates sleeping in doorways, under arches in cardboard boxes. I tackled it from both ends, the do-gooder with a bucket of money, and the disadvantaged trying to claw their way back into society. The more I delved, and the more I researched, the more the subject fascinated me, and in the end I was pleased with the result. I only sent it to two publishers and got two nice replies and ‘no thank you’.
I found that short stories are much more difficult, because they have to be crisp and tight, imagination catching but no superfluous verbiage. Very often I’d start off with a great idea, write what I thought was a good story, and then when I went to read it, found it had not got the bite that a short story needs. The bite sometimes is gentle, could almost be a tearjerker, but it has to surprise, that is the real bite One day I may post a short story called ‘The mouse in the bottle’, my Dutch friend Jan has suggested I should; if I do, it will be interesting to see the reaction when reading the reader stats.
Doggerel if you don’t take it too seriously can be amusing. It will never be poetry, but who cares, as long as it’s funny, slightly cynical, and raises a laugh or makes a point, it has done its job. On this website, under ‘Kissing’ you’ll find doggerel. Real poetry is a gift and a science which I believe is given only to a few.. I wonder if people still run, and go on motorised Treasure Hunts, hunting out clues, generally written on a sheet in rhyming doggerel. I used to churn them out for office and charity does, but they are a lot more difficult than they seem. You might have found the best clue of the lot, but simply can’t put it even crudely into four lines of doggerel.
Writing the Blog has been a real experience, allied to some extent to what journalists must feel, with interest a top priority, reader preference and deadlines. As a high proportion of my stuff is biographical and I only have one life, that side will be coming to an end, but, while I originally said I would pack it in, there is so much controversy in every sphere, I just can’t keep my trap shut – like Politics.
So, in May or June, look out for a new Heading on Old Gaffer, called The Groomsport Herald, and even earlier, have a look at my grandson Steve Jones’s interesting blog WWW. S*T*U*F*F.Reloaded, He is a musician playing with top bands and the breadth of his interests is incredible..