Writing Lessons

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I read an interesting Op-Ed in the NYT today by John Grisham about how he became a writer – Boxers, Briefs and Books. He gave me, an aspiring writer, some comfort. It is hard work. I was glad to read this and that he still finds it difficult.

For some reason, it is always tempting to imagine successful people have it easy. The reverse is true in fact. They are successful precisely because its been difficult.

Recently I have received some ‘coaching’ for my writing from some respected authors (not Grisham, although I have worked with his sister).

Jonathan Aitken gave me some advice about the importance of ‘treading the grapes.’ Going over and over the subject until all of the ‘juice’ is extracted. He gave some facinating anecdotes from his biography of Nixon and said how he found it easier to write by hand. He has the whole biography sriblled on paper in binders (not sure that would work for me as also requires a secretary). He also suggested reading the work aloud to a friend (to see if they can keep awake). That morning he had penned a piece for the Evening Standard about Conrad Black, which took him about three hours and various edits (crossings out).  I guess he faxed the final product!

Another author (as opposed to writer) tore into my work, fairly I must say, so as to ensure I don’t waste my time. She was very nice about it and it had the desired affect on the work. I enjoyed re-writing and it was far more readable.

I have always loved reading (mainly biographies and long magazine essays) and enjoyed collecting books. My interest in the written word has led me, in recent years, to write the odd article. Getting published is rewarding but this year it has become more regular and even made me a few pounds.

My father, a former journalist has certainly been an inspiration. My grandfather, a self educated pastor, had a few books published (which can found on Abebooks).

I was an early user of blogs (in 2002) but never really got going fully. Why? Because it is hard work and time consuming!

Now that I have some clear goals and ideas for a book or three, not to mention a little financial incentive, I am working at it more – despite having ‘less’ time.

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