Friday, 26 August 2005


Well how's this for a barrel of smugness on a Friday morning - an article in The Goonsquad by famous fabulous author Tim Clare. Never heard of him? Me neither. Tim would like to tell you all that not everybody has a novel in them. And that publishing a book is really dead simple if you're good enough. And that any "drudges" who can't get published are just "needy bumbling timewasters". Or "burnt-out English teachers". (Wonder why he bothered to take an MA when he's so dismissive?)

Mr Clare shows that he knows very little about the publishing industry when he denies that it is a giant cartel. He clearly has never had an insider's view. But a flick through Carole Blake's From Pitch to Publication should bring him back down to earth with a bump. He claims that if anything, publishing is too open to newcomers. I think he is confusing this with the inexplicable trend of some publishers to put any old rubbish into print.

Many well-written novels are rejected for tenuous reasons which are rarely to do with the quality of the writing. Their subject matter is not 'trendy' enough, it's too 'difficult'; the book is set in the 'wrong' country; it's too big; it's too small. And other such whimsies. It's worth bearing in mind too, that someone who is skilled at creative writing might not necessarily have the aggressive and tenacious personality needed to market themselves and their work. In fact many writers prefer to work alone with their creations; the idea of having to face agents and endless rounds of PR fills them with dread. Does this really make them "disaffected and untalented"? I think many many people have a novel in them, a good one. Just not everybody manages to get it published. There is a difference.

A quick google search (what on earth did we do before google?) finds this quote by Tim himself: "Naturally, like most foolish rookie authors, I think what I've written's rather good... " Didn't take him long to switch from a foolish rookie to a pompous knob, did it? Well it would seem his book has stalled on its way to the public, because Amazon has never heard of him. Keeps directing me to books about The Burren, in Co. Clare, Ireland. A lovely place, should you ever get the chance to visit it, and most likely a far nicer way to spend a Friday than reading over lemons. And while we're on the subject of fruit, it might interest Mr Clare to know that a kumquat ("accountants with ulcers the size of kumquats") is about the size of a grape. I think, perhaps, you were searching for a larger fruit analogy. Who wants to read you showing off your Scrabble words?