A week ago I got an email telling me a friend’s first novel had been longlisted for the Booker Prize. The Booker is the pre-eminent prize for literary fiction written in English, and winning it is generally reckoned to be career changing. Just getting as far as the long list is pretty major, especially if, as is the case in question, you have never published a novel before, and it has taken you twenty years to get publisher. It certainly came as a surprise to my friend. Read more “Prizes, Surprises – and Persistence”
EXT. DESERT. DAY.
That didn’t take long. Scene directions never do. And yet to realise it, the producers will have to fork out thousands of dollars, recruit the film crew, the actors, the people who look after the crew and the actors, and the people who organise getting large groups of people into any location indicated in the script, however remote. And then there’ll be the stunt men and women, the catering corps, the tent people, the props department, the wardrobe department, the people who teach the actors hopefully not to fire live rounds at each other. And so it goes on. Most people have left the cinema by the time the last make-up artist has been credited near the bottom of the scroll of honour.
I have no polling stats to support this, but I’d guess if people were invited to choose their favourite art genres in order, portraiture would come pretty near the top. I don’t know about you, but I can only stand the perfectly captured bloom on an Old Master’s ripe plums for a limited amount of time. Self-portraits can keep you gazing for what seems like hours – those late Rembrandts where he stares ahead like an ancient sea captain, trying to decipher through the wheelhouse window the perils of the coming storm which will inevitably engulf him.
It is commonly accepted that starting a book is the most difficult part. It’s certainly a tough moment when you confront the blank page at the top of which stands the legend: Chapter 1. But by the time you reach that stage, you will have done a lot of thinking, a lot of planning, a lot of research. If you’re working with a ghost, you’ll have done hours of interviews and had lots of discussions about what’s going to go in. And of course, if you are working with a ghost writer, that first sentence on the blank page is his/her problem, not yours!
I’m currently working on two projects with authors no one will have heard of. That doesn’t make them nobodies. Far from it. The more I have worked with them, the more I have grown to respect them and what they have done that they want a wider audience to know about.