Eric Mayer

Byzantine Blog

Get Email Updates
Cruel Music
Diana Rowland
Martin Edwards
Electric Grandmother
Jane Finnis
Keith Snyder
My Incredibly Unremarkable Life
Mysterious Musings
Mystery of a Shrinking Violet
The Rap Sheet
reenie's reach
Thoughts from Crow Cottage
This Writing Life
Woodstock's Blog
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

1481626 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

Some People Never Learn
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (3)

Michael Allen at Grumpy Old Bookman features a valuable essay about sf writer Charles Stross and his newest novel Iron Sunrise. Because I don't read sf anymore, I have no opinions about the work of Charles Stross. For all I know Allen's criticisms are entirely wrongheaded. However, the problem he addresses bears thinking about by anyone who writes. Allen says:

I fear that Mr Stross may be at risk of falling into a trap which has already claimed a number of other young(ish) British writers; he may be in danger of believing what the papers say about him.
Allen goes on to quote a number of wildly enthusiastic reviews and then cautions:

...a writer who gets reviews like that may be excused for feeling pretty damn pleased with himself.

But the danger is, of course, that he will assume from such reviews that he is doing everything right. And he will go on doing what he did the first time around, in the confident expectation that he will get more of the same reception.

Allen then explains why a writer who adopts this approach may indeed get more of the same reception from the critics and, consequently, fail to improve his or her skills or continue to attract readers. He names a number of authors who he believes have fallen into this trap.

So, dear friends and would-be writers. When you open your newspaper, looking for the reviews of your first novel, and find yourself labeled a worthy successor to P.G. Wodehouse/D.H. Lawrence/Barbara Cartland, just remember that it may not be entirely true. And, even if it is, you still have a whole working lifetime ahead of you, during which you will need to hone and refine your skills at every stage. Really successful writers continue to improve; they mature with age.

My problem is that I am acutely aware of my shortcomings as a writer. I am too ready to believe a harsh review and dismiss a positive one.

Never mind published authors who take their rave reviews too seriously. The world seems filled with writers who've never got a foot out of the slush pile but who just know they're better than those hacks getting the rave reviews.

Mary and I are writing our seventh novel in the past eight years. It's as hard a task as ever. maybe harder. I never had the misapprehension that I knew what I was doing before we sold a book. The first sale didn't prove to me that I knew much of anything, either. Some days, now, I can almost convince myself I have learned a little. I am pretty sure our writing today is far superior to what was in that manuscript of One For Sorrow that Barbara Peters bought and helped us salvage, and a lot of the improvement is attributable to Barbara's coaching over the years.

Maybe I'd enjoy writing more if I didn't see the faults in my work. I doubt it, though. I suspect if I ever reached the point where I felt I had nothing more to learn I'd give up writing for some more interesting challenge. That's not likely to happen soon.

Read/Post Comments (3)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.