I am writing a book. I have got the page numbers done.
– Steven Wright
Some of the comments left in my Blog are very flattering on the surface – they say I should get into writing. I ask them all: “Haven`t I already started? And aren`t you reading what I wrote?”
Anyways….you can be excused for not knowing my literary prowess. A few of my friends believe that my connection with the literary world began when I accidentally hit RK Narayan`s car while it was returning after dropping the ace Indian writer at a funeral. I was on my bicycle….and was ten years old.
Connection or no connection…let me go ahead with my story. Initially, I started writing because it gave me pleasure. It was fun. And then, I wondered why not do it for friends and relatives…I started writing poems for their girl friends, their leave letters etc. Years have gone by since I first wielded my pen and now I intend to make money out of it. Sounds very much like prostitution…first you do it for self…then for friends and then wonder if you could make some money out of it.
In my attempt to make some money…I had once sent my manuscript to a publisher. He replied saying my book was both original and good.
I was excited…but when I didn`t see my book in the stores even after six months, I was forced to get in touch. He was apologetic but gave an honest reply: “Your book is both good and original. The part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.”
Talking of aspiring writers, one dude once walked up to Somerset Maugham and said: “Sir, I had sent you my collection of short stories.”
Maugham replied: “I saw.”
The amateur who had not yet learnt the ways of the literary world persisted: “Do you think I should put more fire in my stories?”
This was precisely the question Maugham was waiting for, and shot back: “I would suggest you do vice-versa.”
The idea is never to take advice from established writers or publishers. If you are also an aspiring writer like me, I would suggest you never send a self-addressed stamped envelope along with your manuscript….that is the mistake I had been doing for the last ten years. Each time, the manuscript was sent back. Guess the publishers are a little stingy (they don`t like to waste the stamp) and easily tempted.
Getting your book should be easy if you don`t send a stamped self-addressed envelope. But remember…writing books doesn`t pay you much. The most paying literary pieces are ransom notes. According to a recent survey, 80 per cent of the respondents felt that very soon doctor`s prescription will overtake ransom notes as the most paying literary pieces.
You probably wonder why go through the trouble of wasting a year in solitary confinement and writing a novel. I agree with you. That is why I have decided to walk into a bookstore and just buy a novel.
Some of you probably didn`t understand what this big write up was all about. If you didn`t… chances are you live in Australia. Didn`t Geoffrey Corttell once say: “In America only the successful writer is important, in France all writers are important, in England no writer is important and in Australia, you have to explain what a writer is.”
I know a friend of mine, who started off writing for magazines…and even wrote a few novels. In over ten years, he has realized that he has no talent for writing…but now the publishers won`t let him retire because he is already famous.
Some like this friend are lucky. Some others like me marry money and lead a peaceful life as a writer. After all, to be a writer one only needs a pen, a paper and a corrupted mind.