Excuse me!

"Quit whining and get writing."

Picture an office, the frosted glass door emblazoned with the words: Writing Agony Uncle. A writer, clutching a bunch of rejection letters and a hefty manuscript, taps timidly on the doorframe.

"It's open."

The writer touches the door handle, feeling his sweat against the brass.

"Take a seat."

The Agony Uncle leans back in his seat, feet on the desk. He's wearing a Sam Spade fedora. "Shoot."

The writer slumps into a chair, wondering why the office decor dates to the 1930s. He passes over his rejection slips. "It's just not fair!"

The Agony Uncle flicks through the pages, nodding at the occasion titbit of feedback. "Of course it ain't fair, you stoopid Limey." (He's American.) "Who said it's supposed to be fair? It's nature - survival of the thickskinned. Kill or be killed. Use what you got." He senses a bunch of excuses are about to be pitched his way and picks pulls a baseball bat out of the drawer.

"I'm too old to be a successful writer."

"Funny you should say that. Helen Hooven Santmyer was published at 88."

"Well, then I'm too young to be a successful writer."

"Interesting. Christopher Beale had a book launch for This and Last Season's Excursions when he was six years old."

"Okay, but I've had too many rejections to be a successful writer."

"Four words - Gone with the Wind." (Reputed to have earned 38 rejections.)

I've had too few rejections to be a successful writer.

(Flicks through the sheets.) "Somehow I doubt that! What else ya got, kid?"

"I'm not educated enough, I'm too unphotogenic to be an author, and I don't have the right connections."

The Agony Uncle is silent for a while, weighing the bat in his hand. "I hear your pain, kid; sure I do. But you're missing the point. And the point is..."

(After a long pause.) "To...erm...write?"

"Bingo. Write a compelling, knock-me-down-on-my-ass novel and see how those hang-ups fade to the background. Sure, get an education; get some professional headshots - or a stand-in; network and schmooze until you get an 'in'. But remember that the writing comes first. Okay?"


"Now, move along. I've got a two o'clock who's struggling to match the success of her first novel. Jeez, you writers - you'e never content!"

So, what are your excuses and how do you overcome them?


Fionnuala said...

This made me chuckle on a rainy morning! My excuses are far too many to list here, but you've touched on some of them. The 'I'm just not good enough' whine is the most prominent at the moment... Fx

Caroline Green said...

I loved this. Such wise words!

DT said...

Hi Fionnuala and Caroline. This Agony Uncle is also one of my muses. He doesn't do touchy-feely, but he does make me laugh through the pain!

Incidentally, I had another blog post published today (I know, what a hussy). It's about when publishing is not such a good idea. http://musapublishing.blogspot.co.uk/

Deb said...

Couldn't have said it better myself, Derek! Well done.

DT said...

Thanks, Deb - and now it's back to the manuscript!

JO said...

This rings so many bells - a great post.

Rin Simpson said...

Ha, love this! And it's so true. Fear kept me from writing until I set up The Steady Table. Now I have to write for at least three hours a week, every week (and often this kick starts me and makes me do more). The result? Two short stories included in anthologies this year and a few more published online. It's all about the writing.

Sue Sedgwick said...

Scarily familiar - I think I've used all of those. Oh dear

Debs Riccio said...

ha ha ha I LOVE this - your Agony Uncle must know the devil's advocate on my left shoulder (why left?). He's right though, they both are. And ...um... 38 rejections? How about 380?

Hazel_Myope said...

I so get this!

My big worry has always been not being anywhere near as good as my brother. He writes too and he's currently looking for a place to do his English lit doctorate.

I eventually realised that I was never going to write the same as my brother, for better or for worse, and there's room for both of us.

And I now have an awsome beta reader.