Tuesday, 4 March 2014

I am humbly asking for help...Please won't someone help me??

Hello future me

You might think by the title that things are not going well, but it's not as bad as I probably think.  I have come up against a wall and am having trouble getting round it, over it, hell I've even tried punching my way through it, but alas it seems that it is not to be.

The problem I am having is feedback and support.  I know, I know, so is everybody else, unless they already have an agent, editor, friends or a wife that actually cares, right.  I'm prepared to bet vital parts of my anatomy that this isn't always the case for some of us.

What I need right now, is someone who knows what it is to 'want' to be a writer, someone who is unbiased, neutral, maybe a Swiss perhaps.  Whoever this person might be, I would like to offer some kind of trade off, so here goes -

WANTED

A writer/writers who have finished a novel, novella, collection of short stories, who needs an open and honest assessment of their work before they send it off to someone to see if it's worthy to publish. 

WHAT'S THE CRACK?

What I am proposing is that we swap our work.  I will read anything and everything you have in exchange for someone to read my first story/book.  The idea is that we exchange our work and then after a decided amount of time we get back to each other and give an open and honest critique of each others work.

Now, I realise that this is open to all manner of flaws, traps and pitfalls, some of them are probably quite realistic, others are because we live in a world where trust has to be earned instead of being expected.  I think this is very sad, but that's the way of the world now, a lot of people I have noticed don't really care about others, they are only concerned with what they can get for themselves.  I don't blame most of these people, as I know from experience that the reason why a lot of folks feel like this is because life has made it impossible to feel anything else.  I've decided to update a couple of quotes that I used to believe in.

I think it was Oscar Wilde that said

'With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone'.

I have decided to change this slightly, well actually quite a lot.  My version is as follows -

'With age comes cynicism!'

Another one I used to favour and which according to Wikipedia is one of the 'Golden Rules' and which has also been written several different way is -

'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you'.

I believe the full version was written in Matthew 7:12.  But from what I can make out now, this 'Golden Rule' has changed to the following -

'Do unto others BEFORE they do it to you'.

Now before anyone kicks off and tells me I'm a hateful and cynical dick, I don't believe in these updated quotes, it's simply how I see a lot of people these days and I think that if you're reading this you have to agree to certain extent that this tends to be the case more and more.  I mean, when was the last time you left your house and didn't lock it?  If the last generation was anything to go by, apparently everybody did, because you trusted your neighbours and knew that they would look out for you and in exchange all you had to do was the same.  From what I can gather things were different back then, of course you had those who took the piss, who used and gained from people's trust, but how did these individuals start to control us so much that we now feel we have to keep everything guarded?  Anyway I digress.

The point I'm trying to make is that I am a wannabe writer, I feel that I have it in me to be a writer and that's okay, we all have dreams, and some of us get to live our dreams and that's all I want to do too.  I'm not expecting billion pound contracts and book sales that top the list of all things bookish (although that would be nice), I just want to be good at something enough for other people to enjoy and maybe even be inspired to chase their own dream, but to achieve the goal, sometimes hard work and dedication isn't enough, unfortunately luck is now a very real commodity.  How many times have you heard that 'It's not what you know, it's who you know'.  Or and I detest this one, 'They just happened to be at the right place at the right time'.  AARGGHHHH!!!

I genuinely believe that trust is now very hard to come by, as a general rule, it is now quoted as being something that is earned.  And I believe this is why I am going to have trouble with my request for help.  We live in a world where we are convinced that anyone we don't know will only take and never give, and as a rule I'm tolerant to this, I don't really like to ask for help, so I rarely do, but if I can help someone I will do the best I can, within my means.  I still hold onto that adage, that everybody deserves a chance, I make my own opinions, etc.  Have I been bitten in the past, damn right I have, I have been royally screwed in the past, but if I let it get to me I would be swearing by the two quotes I have changed and I'm trying very hard to ignore them, in spite of them yelling at me almost everyday.

So here is the question or conundrum perhaps. 

I have finished, to the best of my abilities, my first book/story/novel it is approx. 160,000 words.  What I am hoping is that someone might read this and be in the same position as me.  I have no beta readers to speak of as no-one I know is aware that I have written a book, besides, I have enquired and most of the people I have approached tell me that their not much in to reading.  WTF!!

Anyway, I have got as far as I know I can writing and re-writing and now the words are starting to blur.  I have approached a couple of agents, not many, nine if you need a figure and have been rejected by but two of them and I'm expecting those two to fail also, which I am totally okay with, I didn't expect anything more if I was honest, but what I haven't had is someone read my piece.  There are no writing groups local to me, the nearest that I can find is in Leeds, which is 40 miles away, besides I am slightly reclusive which doesn't help.  I have found websites that do offer this kind of service, but they seem to calculated, the complete lack of trust makes it difficult as they make you jump through hoops.  I could pay someone to proof read and breakdown my work, but money is a little tight at the moment.

I actually considered developing a site called 'Writing Buddies'.  The idea being that you have written something, book, poems, whatever gets you typing and you find someone who has the same interests and tastes and you basically swap work.  They read yours and you read theirs, at the end of it, you can then exchange notes.  Bit's that do work, bit's that might not, parts that you found incredible, etc.  Then with the feedback you have been given you know how you might be able to fix your piece so that it is ready for sending out to someone else, or if you're looking to self publish you know that someone has read it and said, well, whatever it is they have said.

I appreciate that logistically this seems like an impossible ask, but that's when trust has to come in to it.  We are all writers to some extent, published, indie or just starting, but the bottom line is, at some point we all need help with our work and sometimes, some people don't have or are incapable of getting that help, someone who might read their stuff and actually tell you that it is quite good but needs polishing a bit, whatever the feedback maybe.  You could look at it like a sponsor.  Someone who is there to push you when you feel like it's all going wrong.  I know, we all have friends and family to fall back, but sometimes they don't understand what it is as a wannabe writer can go through, the doubt, the feeling that you're wasting time, that nothing will ever come of it.

I don't for a second ever think that I will get an agent, that I will ever be a decent writer, that I will ever hold a book I have written in all it's glory, but I'm still giving it a go, because I have to do something and I can't be the only person who feels like this.

So the gauntlet has been placed, do you think you might be able to pick it up.  Is it possible or even doable that we might be able to find a way to help each other and in the process become better writers doing it?  Who knows, you might even make a friend or two.  All we have to do is believe that there are people out there who do want to help, all it takes is a little bit of trust.

I'm probably wrong, my post will probably get deleted from most of the google+ communities I subscribe to, but all I am wanting to know is the following.  Is it possible to help each other out with our writing and in the process become better writers doing it?  There might even be websites or blogs that offer this idea up.  Does it work?  Can it work?  Or am I, and I think this is probably more the case, am I just being naïve?

But if you are interested in my idea, please don't hesitate to contact me.  This is a sincere request and in exchange I promise to read and feedback with honesty, using integrity, anything you feel might need reading.  I am not an editor, an agent, I do not have any connections with regard to publishing or how to get published, but I love to read and have done since I was old enough to read.  I read my first Stephen King book when I was 7 and never looked back.  My tastes are eclectic and I have found that some of the best books I have read have always seemed to be something I wasn't looking for.

I don't expect much from this, it is simply an offer that someone might take a chance on, hell, we all need help sometimes, all we have to do is believe and trust.

Until next time.

Stay cool old friend.

Pip  x

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