Writing’s tough. Anyone who says it’s easy is kidding themselves. It’s a craft, and like all crafts, it has to be honed, and worked at. Whenever I’m having a bad writing day–believe me, a regular occurrence–I remind myself of a couple of true stories I was once told.
A woman accosted a famous concert pianist after a recital and said to him, ‘I wish I could play as well as you.’ He looked at her and replied, ‘No you don’t. You’ll never practice, persist, and be patient enough.’
A classical composer raced from his room after completing the 39th draft of a concerto he’d been working on for a year. His wife, worried sick about his health, asked him, ‘How was it? Is it finished?’ He glanced at her, scornfully, and said, ‘It’s okay, but it’s not good enough.’
Just over fifteen years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to give up full time work and write. I’ve written nine books, six rewritten; several short stories, and I’m in the process of writing my tenth book. I self-published in print my first six books with several small independent publishers. Some of the six sold quite well, some didn’t, but all those publishers have since either closed down or gone bust. Now, thanks to Amazon and CreateSpace, those six books, my short stories, and my new books are published digitally, and with print editions.
I’m no concert pianist or classical composer, but I know my work is not good enough: just work in progress. A craftsman does an apprenticeship and takes an exam, a writer just writes, improving all the time. Writing is like learning on the job.
Before e-books, being published by a traditional publishing company was like reaching the Holy Grail. Then you could call yourself a writer. You’d done your apprenticeship, and passed the exam. Now anyone who’s published an e-book, including myself, calls himself or herself a writer.
I have nothing against e-books. I’ve made money from them, but if there’s no longer a gatekeeper–the traditional publisher who offers you a deal or no deal–then e-book writers, like myself, must be our own toughest critic.
I follow a few rules.
- I read and rewrite my work as many times as necessary, until it’s as good as it I can make it.
- If I’m not happy with what I’ve written, or it just doesn’t come together, I delete it. No ifs, buts, or maybes, I just press delete and start again.
- I read aloud. If it doesn’t sound good, I press the delete button again.
- If a word doesn’t seem to work, I’ll take as long as necessary to find the right one, and if I can’t find one, I’ll rewrite the sentence.
- I read as much as I can by other authors, both for enjoyment and to learn from their style of writing.
My wish is to write a good book, one that is critically acclaimed, not only by friends and family, but by many I don’t know. My motive is not financial, just a sense of achievement.I will write forever, in the hope, one day, I’ll get it right.
And in the words of one of the greatest living American writers, Philip Roth, ‘A book has to bite, sting you, and give a blow to the head, otherwise why read it.’
Harry Fingle stories
The first story.
Giant international corporations hire hitmen. The CIA and MI6 sanction immoral and illegal skulduggery. People die. Harry Fingle–an investigative journalist, searching for his brother’s killer–is appalled, and tries to publish his findings. He’s gagged, an assassin is briefed, and his ex-lover is stabbed.
Harry’s a pawn in a real-life game of chess played out by the security services.
The second story.
The wrong man is murdered in a café in Istanbul. A feared Russian assassin is mortified and vows to right his mistake. Harry Fingle’s lover becomes over-inquisitive, and his spy-friend tells him to watch out.
Tension mounts. The Russians hire a Serbian hitman as a back-up executioner and Harry begins to question his trusted spy-friend’s loyalties.
The final story
Murderers walk free from court, juries are nobbled, spooks leak secrets, police fix investigations, prisoners escape, and the media stay silent. Zero One is dominant. One man controls it.
A lingering love affair, Harry Fingle’s discovery of the name of Zero One’s chief, and the breakout from jail of Harry’s nemesis–the feared Russian assassin Grigoriy Nabutov–make for a tense and emotional conclusion to the trilogy.
Harry Fingle box set
Playing Harry, Assasination Continuum, Zero One in one three-book box set.
Work in progress, and will be published later this year
Wattpad. Read for free:
Selected chapters from the three books in The Harry Fingle Collection–Playing Harry, Assassination Continuum, and Zero One–plus the The Harry Fingle Collection-trailer in full.
Plus three complete books in the Originals series.