Ways in which…

Photo by kind permission of V Sunkmanitu (see link below)

Ways in which I’ve made a tit* out of myself as a writer (in no particular order).

1. Waiting one year, three months and 16 days to get a reply from a publisher. Mercifully, not an exclusive submission, but why, why, why did I bother?
2. Using the phrase, ‘Yours ethically,’ to a client (who freaked a little and went elsewhere).
3. Making a flippant comment to an agent after waiting an extra week to hear about a writing competition, only to hear that the reason my email had been delayed was that I’d been shortlisted. I didn’t win, which arguably is karma.
4. Not asking, up front, what the rate was per word, and then having to listen to a load of pony about what a great opportunity it will be for me in the long-term. That is, once I’d learned to go without food.
5. Writing at a rate per word where, ordinarily, outside the writing world, you’d be searching the job ads during your teabreak.
6. Taking FOREVER to take the plunge and self-publish my own novel. I mean, seriously, what IS the worst that could happen? Nobody buys and reads it? Shit, that’s the situation if it isn’t published. I lose a little money on it? Big deal – as long as I learn something. To be filed under ‘don’t be a wuss’. 
7. Letting two payment deadlines go by before issuing a client with a take down notice. (If I just love them even more, maybe they’ll change…).
8. Agreeing to exclusive electronic rights for two years, which is the approximate lifepsan of a mosquito fish. Just in case you were wondering.
9. While attending a writing course in London, after work, the tutor snootily asked me to define my work for the benefit of him and the class. I explained that the essence of the novel (see, I can do snooty, too) was that the plot mattered more than the individual characters. 
“Ah, he nodded sagely, you’ve obviously read a great deal of Chekhov.” 
“No,” I replied, “but I’ve watched all his appearances in Star Trek.” Phasers on pun.
10. Admitting all the above in a blog post.
* Photograph provided by Wolf Photography and Villayat Sunkmanitu.

Don’t be shy – share your creative confessions in the comments box.


  1. Joe says:

    You're very brave to bare your soul like this in the very public arena that is your blog. Hats off to you…and for the record, I would have LOVED to have seen the creative writing tutor's face! 😀

    I suppose the biggest way I've made a t*t out of myself in my writing career to date would be sending out virtual first drafts of my novel to agents. This is something I will no doubt supersede in the future.

  2. Derek says:

    Hi, Joe – thanks for stopping by. The writing tutor (who nipped out to the shops during the break) blinked a couple of times, let the laughter subside and saw me for the idiot that I was. Truth be told, it was less intimidating to share some flippancy than to talk seriously about a novel that I thought might not have been taken seriously. The point being that I wasn't taking it seriously back then.

    How many drafts before submission is always a tricky one. I like to edit and then put the novel aside for at least a month. Objective feedback from writing groups can help too. The most important thing, for me, is to send in a manuscript when it's right for the book and not just comfortable for me.

  3. Chloe says:

    Number two actually made me laugh out loud! Brilliant. I'm getting bored of 'Yours respectfully' in my letters for Amnesty International, I'm going to start using 'ethically' instead.

  4. Julie says:

    I totally love #2 and #9! I want to start using "yours ethically" now just for fun. 😀

    The "rate per word" thing was a bit too close to home. I've done that already and I am totally amazed at some of the rates I've seen.

    Kudos to you for sharing all this!

  5. Derek says:

    If you hunt around on this blog – within the last three months, I think – you'll find some debate on the issue of rates. As someone said in Thelma and Louise: You get what you settle for.

    Glad you enjoyed the post.

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