A World of Difference
Or perhaps that should read, “A Word of Difference”.
There is, as I discover after many years of trial and error and trial, a world of difference between someone who says, “You write well, but…” and another who says, “I love this, really, I love what you’ve done here. But it needs work”.
Finding the soul who says enthusiastically, “I see where you are going, had you thought of ….?” becomes a positive, partnership-type of hope compared with, say, someone who opines, “I liked this well enough…” – beware the lukewarm response – “…but I think your characters are…and I don’t like… and this could be different…” Which reader will, I suspect, never be happy however hard we may work to make changes (unless, of course, the final outcome bears no resemblance to our first offering).
I would love to write a Catherine Cookson-style blockbuster.
I would if I could; I would dearly love to fit in with others’ expectations and hopes. But I’ve tried that for years – honestly, I have, and broken my heart a few times in the process – and it simply does not work. If I were somehow to procure a facsimile of what is considered sellable, it would lack heart, soul and meaning and sooner or later, that would become obvious and kill the story.
Besides, my characters have other ideas.
Do agents and publishers only aspire for their authors’ books to be bought by Sainsburys and Tesco? I get it, that this is one market where bestsellers are made, but has this now become the sum total of bestseller ambition?
I fully recognise that these is no point whatever in trying to appeal to everyone. In fact, that is impossible, and the sooner I accept it, the better. And therefore, there is no point worrying about a person’s – or even a whole bunch of persons’ – points of view. To have the help of those who will never fully understand is no help; enthusiasm must be the benchmark for all success. In other words, do I like my work enough that it still enthuses me? And can I reasonably hope that someone else will share that enthusiasm? Because unless we can hold faith with that ambition, everything else is a sell-out.
Thanks for listening.