The explosion of ebooks and self-publishing has made everybody a potential author but I can’t help wishing a few more aspiring scribes would realise their limitations.
I sing in the bath, I grumble, when invited to propound on the subject, but I wouldn’t expect you to pay to listen to it… In other words, I offer sagely, just because we can write, it doesn’t mean we can write…
But oh my goodness, I tell you now, revising my jaded outlook in the light of recent experience, some of you can!
Arriving to lead the morning workshop in the ever-fab Royal Temple Yacht Club, I was almost disappointed not to be greeted by the green-ink user, the all-publishers-are-locked-in-a-conspiracy-against-me brigade and the person penning their autobiography even though they have lived a life of monumental dullness and cannot string a sentence together.
Instead I was met by a group of very good writers indeed, all brimming with ideas and able to express them.
“There is always one” is a maxim among creative writing tutors, but he (it is often a he!) wasn’t there either. What was going on? What we did have, come the afternoon when the novel-openings were presented, were two new judges this year: local playwright Steven Todd and the Turner Contemporary’s marketing officer Bryony Bishop (who also boasts a background in publishing and the splendidly-conceived “Book Share” at Fort’s Cafe in Margate – I like Fort’s!) were a veritable fount of wisdom, along with old hand Rebecca Smith, our very own editor of this very paper (always a fun addition to any proceedings, never mind the bar bill).
Needless to say, they had their work cut out to pick a winner but warm congrats to runners up Lucy Bonita Harris and Nick Gore (two new and impressive young writers whose words made the hair stand up on my arms), Ally Carr and overall winner Katerina Pritzakis – who has the unrivalled joy of a “literary lunch” with me and others to look forward to. It was a great and uplifting experience to hear you all. Thank you.
THEY also say you can’t write if you don’t read, and I would concur entirely.
Never Complain, Never Explain, is a fine mantra so I shall contain myself to merely making a small observation.
It is an odd thing that those who rail most vociferously against this column are usually the ones who appear to have read it least!
My offering a fortnight ago, in which I praised the hard work and efficiency of the post-Folk-Week efforts of the waste and cleansing team, gave rise to six Facebook messages, an e-mail and a phone call from one outraged reader and a staggering 25 admonishments on Twitter plus a further e-mail, from another.
What was notable in both cases (leaving aside the amount of time on their hands) was that they had spectacularly misinterpreted my point! It made me think wistfully of the era before social media, in which it is all too easy to fire off an ill-argued, barely-literate rant, when a regular correspondent known fondly to all at Gazette Towers, simply as ANON, would go to the trouble of addressing an envelope and purchasing a stamp in order to upbraid me.
Ah – those were the days. I miss her still.
*Last year’s winner of Ramsgate’s Got Writing Talent appears in a pilot TV Show with Jane. See www.wannabeawritertvshow.com.