Monday, 7 February 2011

Eight Good Reasons Why I Am Not A Writer

One question I am frequently asked by visitors to my blog is whether I write myself. I don't. I have no intention of writing my own book. In the last two years I have rather resigned myself to the limitations I have when it comes to writing! *grins* It wasn't always the case. As a youngster, I used to write a lot. I quite often subjected my parents and sibling to my terrible efforts - they were always polite, which I marvel at now having read back some of my old pieces of work.

So, guys, for your pleasure and with no little embarrassment, I am going to share with you some extracts from what I've written in the past, so that you can all see - once and for all - that my destiny is to review books and not to write them!

1) All my characters are me

It was a blustery day in late September when Leigh arrived at the university residences that she would call home for the next year. Clouds scudded across the sky and a spatter of drizzle caused her face to grimace slightly in disgust. The normally quiet campus was bustling with people - new students consulted small maps and imperiously pointed in the direction their parents were to go; older students watched the recent arrivals with expressions of slightly lofty superiority; and harassed porters attempted to organise the crowd into some semblance of order.

Yep, this was me arriving at university for the first time. It is not the only time my experiences, friends, thoughts appeared in my writing!

2) I plagiarised horribly

It was raining when Rebekah first entered Ellerburn - a cold, driving rain that chilled her to the bone. She sat bowed in the saddle, shoulders hunched against the cold and hood drawn closely around her face. The horse she rode plodded slowly along the cobbled street, desperately tired and footsore.

If you can't see Sparhawk at the start of The Diamond Throne, then you haven't read Eddings! Also, note my obsession with weather reports, which most often consisted of rain.

3) I unsuccessfully tried my hand at tie-in fiction

He let out an involuntary yell as he looked down and realised that it was blood falling onto his hand from the sky. All the sentries looked then above them and watched as death descended. Inhumanely beautiful women - eight of them - hovered lazily on leather wings just out of reach of the terrified sentries' spears. They all wore the blood of Albrecht smeared across their mouths and traced in esoteric designs across their lush and very naked figures. With a languid gesture, the leader of the harpies - recognised by the silver chains draped through her tangled raven locks - signalled the imminent demise of the remaining sentries. To a man, they ran as they saw the harpies swooping on them, cackling their glee and chanting the name of that most heathen god, Khaine.

Yep, I wanted to write in the world of Warhammer, and tried a story about a Dark Elf raiding party. It was not good.

4) Christmas screenplays are not my forte

Mary: But why did God choose me?

Gabriel: Because you are kind and willing. God thought you would do this for him. It needs to be done.

Mary: But I'm not married.

Gabriel: You have to do this.

Mary: I know. I will do this thing.

Gripping, non? Personally I don't know why I'm not script-writing for Eastenders with drama like that... In truth, I was but eight years old when I penned this. I wrote a whole Nativity play and it was actually performed. It was dreadful (as you can see) but I'm still just a little proud :-O

5) Umm, epic fantasy is not my forte either...

The Daoman took one more step. Now he was truly within the Empire. He tried reaching for his magic and came up with nothing. The land was dead. It was the first time in three years that he had been without the spark that gave him Magi abilities. He could recall vividly the horror he had felt on the day his latent talents were discovered, but the magic had become familiar and dear to him. It now defined part of who he was. To have that part stripped so cruelly from him left him desolate.

Yirraeth's keen ears caught the sound of pounding hooves and a faint neigh. He turned his face to the north, from whence the sound came, and another wave of longing to return to his tribe washed over him. He stumbled northwards two steps and fell to his knees as the magic crackled up through his body from the land. The sensation was both like lightning shocking him into life, and cool water rinsing his skin of the human taint. The hooves swept into view and Yirraeth gazed weakly up at his Lifemount, Jihan. The huge black stallion came to a stop, his hooves planted firmly, mane and tail wreathing around his massive body like smoke.

Oh, check it! Magic! Made-up words! Silly names! Just call me Terry Brooks (except, y'know, much less talented...) *pokes out tongue*

6) I REALLY wanted to write fantasy

A famous Moorland gale had sprung up two evenings ago and raged ever since. The herds held their breath - surely now would the Prophecies take place. All story-tellers told of the wind that would last for three days and nights; of the horse who would finally rise to unite the Moorland herds against those of the Mountains. Ordinarily most horses wouldn't turn their heads from the springtime jobs of rearing new foals and teaching yearlings the Way of the Wild to listen to the gossip of flighty songbirds. The winter, however, had been long and difficult, and the herds needed anything that would raise their morale for the forthcoming months of battle.

Yep, I tried my hand at a little anthropomorphic fantasy - check out the mention of Prophecies (with the unnecessary capital letter)! And, yes, the whole weather report thing just didn't get old for me. How best to drag a reader kicking and screaming into your story? Why, by opening with talking about wind and rain, of course! *rolls eyes*

7) I loved L J Smith so much I wanted to write the exact same books as her

She looked up, and her sharp black eyebrows rose. The teacher was calling for attention, trying to introduce the tall young man standing beside him. He looked like a god that had strayed from heaven, and Kerry sneered when she heard the semi-audible sighs emanating from the girls around her. He was certainly good-looking, but she couldn't see why they would throw their pride away in an effort for him to recognise them.

"A god that had strayed from heaven" *vomits a little*. Next I'll be chatting up guys in nightclubs by saying "If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?" *sighs*

8) You want overblown drama? You got it, baby!

Through the secret, hidden vallies; down the spring-filled glades; whispering among the mixed trees of the forests; stirring the stallions in the herds, came a legend. A legend that soon a mare would come to rival all others, born to midnight and moonlight. In her coat would shimmer the moon's mystery; silver lights would flash in her mane. It was called by the birds; animals whispered it on dark nights; even the trees held it in their rustling leaves. There was another myth that ghosted through the Reserve, equally mysterious, telling of four that become one. Written across the heavens in the stars about a dark journey into Death and out again...

Okay, observe the over-use of semi-colons. I loved them with a passion. Then read the above passage in the deep booming voice of a summer blockbuster trailer. Nope, I agree, that doesn't make it any better - just EVEN MORE AMUSING!

Do you know the worst part of all this? Those were the eight choicest passages - but I could have found many, many more to demonstrate just how much I should not be a writer. Fun, no?

Now that I've embarrassed myself, do you have any extracts of your own writing you wish to share? How many of my blog visitors are budding authors, and how long have you been writing? Would love to hear from you!


  1. Brilliant post. But you know every writer has a stack of these bottom-drawer novels. You have to make the mistakes before you can recognise what you don't like and start writing the good stuff. So, never say never.

  2. Excellent post!

    I've never tried to write fiction because I suspect that I would produce nothing but turgid derivative crap.

    I've read enough bad novels, seen enough small theatrical productions and attended enough amateur operas to come to believe that there's only a small amount of genuine talent in the world and most people never feel the warmth of its embrace or the sweetness of its kiss.

    The last thing the world needs is another sharp-elbowed twat trying to blag their way as an author and so I have never tried to write fiction and I almost certainly never will.

  3. "Unfortunately" the trilogy me and a friend started 20 years ago was lost in one of my moves.
    It had black clad riders, living in the wilderness, who were secretly the royal family.
    -I had absolutely nothing to do with us devouring Tolkien around that time...

    I still write down any plot idea my weird brain comes up with. I probably have about fifty of them now.

  4. I'm a reader, not a writer. When I was eleven I started a story about a girl and her horse. And yeah, that was as far as I ever got. It was as awful as you think it was. So I decided I'd be a reader and be good at it *grin* I'm still working on that!

  5. I think there's a lot of truth in the old adage that the first one million words are practice. This tallies quite nicely with the theory that is takes 10,000 hours of practice to become expert at something (or about 3 hours practice every day for three years).

  6. How nice to discover that there are other people who don't want to write fiction. I tried – I wrote a lot when I was young – but came to realise that I'm a better editor of fiction than I am writer of it, and that I am much better at writing criticism and reviews, and much happier doing that.

  7. I think it's one of those important life stages when you realise that you weren't, after all, born to be an author. Not sure whether I like Mary and Gabriel best, or the mare born to mystery and moonlight...

  8. Great post!

    I love reading and I have no desire to write. Most people don't even want to read my reviews, I can only imagine the horror they would react with if I was writing a novel length book. Gah!

    I will stick with the science papers I have to write and leave it at that.

  9. I have not given up the dream of getting at least one fantasy yet. Whether I'm any good or not, only time will tell...

    If you would like to judge for yourself, here are some example chapter I could use a little feedback on. Be gentle, I have mostly been writing in a vacuum.

  10. i rather liked the one about the demon


    LJ Smith vs. Stephanie Meyer deathmatch. Go go go. See how kind I am giving you terrible blogging ideas. ;-)

  12. Great post! I'd love to share some of my more embarrassing fiction but (a) I think it's a whole lot worse than yours and (b) I am still chasing that writer dream.

  13. Great post.

    I'm not sure that writing something terrible is a reason to believe that what you write will remain bad.

    Compare it to any other skill. Let's say Piano. I can assure you that no-one sits down and plays in a way that would be applauded by others.

    You have to put the time in. I think blogging is a great way to practice as it gets you doing the one thing that actually gets you closer to being a decent writer, writing.

    Recognising your mistakes is surely the first of the required steps in the process of correcting them?

  14. Great post Amanda :o) I have absolutely no interest in becoming an author - I'd much rather spend my time reading what the professionals come up with lol. I think the only time I ever tried writing fiction was when I had to at school. I was always much more interested in drawing than writing (although I've always been a book worm) so if anything I would have loved to end up working as an illustrator

  15. This is hilarious, although I shouldn't laugh too much as I have attempts worse than this and I still want to be a writer...

    My favourite sentence is 'In her coat would shimmer the moon's mystery; silver lights would flash in her mane'. You know plenty of people do sell stuff like this though?

    Seriously though, great post, keep 'em coming.

  16. You are a brave, brave lady. I really enjoyed this post and kept thinking back to similar things I *may* have written;P Hilarious!