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Blog Post – Some Vague Advice, Including “Ardie’s Law”

This blog post is going to be several things all at once and I’m not entirely sure how it’s going to pan out. You have been warned. Okay, first of all, the one thing I’m sure I’m going to be writing about – an advance-proof-copy-type-thing version of my book arrived in an oversized box yesterday and it made me grin for an hour or so.

It came with a letter that explained the final version will be a better quality and will have thicker paper (presumably to trick people into thinking it’s longer than it is), and it is also my last chance to offer edits, but all of this doesn’t really matter, because I got to hold the book in my silly hands.

Since I signed the deal that’s all I’ve wanted, just to be able to hold a book what I wrote. And that has been the only goal ever since I signed the deal, from now on I’m not too fussed about what happens.

This brings me onto my second vague point that I hope I will figure out as I go along – the original goal and that whole writing thing that I did:

First of all, I’m no expert. I somehow managed to get one of these things together, though, so I suppose it’s understandable that the odd person here or there has asked for a small amount of advice or similar on novels and stuff. My first response is always shock. My second response is to resort to some stock phrases that I figured out while answering the questions the first time around. On top of all this, I just plain don’t feel qualified to answer these questions. Equally, though, it’s a little rude to ignore them (especially as they tend to be few and far between and from people that I kind of know). And, here’s the clincher, I’m kind of writing posts for a blog that is meant to be about offering some kind of advice, even if its advice about stuff I’m only just learning about. So, here’s some answers to a few questions I’ve been asked a couple of times. If you feel like this is a little self-indulgent then I apologise, and allow me to direct you towards so you can go and find something a little more interesting:

1) Where did the idea come from? How did this come about?

I don’t know exactly, but sometime during my second year of University. 2007/2008? It was a combination of a couple of different ideas that I forced together to see what would happen. Not a lot happened. But over a few years, one way or another, I turned it into a novel. There wasn’t a ‘eureka’ moment to my memory, but there was the odd moment where I thought this was an idea worth pursuing. These thoughts of it being an idea worth pursuing came out in force when I had other work I should be doing. One of my best writing times was when I was meant to be writing my dissertation in third year. I write best when I should be doing something else, so this writing nonsense feels like a productive distraction. Worst. Rebel. Ever.

2) I’m thinking of writing something.

(I realise this isn’t really a question, but it is something I’m told a bit) Brilliant! It’s great to think people are finding the time to write stuff, and even though it can sometimes be a bit tedious/tough, when we’re at the stage where we’re just writing something we want to write then it should be a fun hobby. There is some advice I often feel I should offer when people tell me this, though, and perhaps this is just personal to me, but it is something that I was keen to stay true to throughout putting together this debut novel – keep it a secret. No one apart from my ridiculous self knew that I was writing a novel until I was at the stage where I felt like a first draft was finished and I could start asking a few people for some editing help. Even then that was a select few, and then only some knew about it when I was testing out with putting it online for people to read. It only became widely known in my little corner of the internet and to my friends when I’d actually signed the book deal. The reason I think this is important is because I think it means you’re more likely to get on with writing it. Not because the goal is to get a book deal, but because the goal is to enjoy writing a novel, and my suspicion is that the more people you tell you’re writing a novel the less work on it you’re likely to do.

This might not be a universal law, but it’s definitely true for me. I wrote it in pockets of time I found here and there, it was like any other hobby, and I just slowly got it done. Other people might have different takes on this, and feel that they need help or advice or just a bit of support that it’s worth carrying on from friends or family or fellow writing-types, or that articulating your thoughts out loud in a conversation with someone else helps to crystallise the idea, and I would understand this if I wasn’t dead inside.

3) Are you writing another one?

Please see point 2.

4) How did you get published?

This is an odd one. My normal answer is this – not the usual way. I don’t have a literary agent, and I got lucky in that my book was found by the publishing company on Completely Novel, an eBook/print-on-demand/social networking service (which is also ace!).  I was also lucky in that the publishing company is fairly small and so I think part of what they’re doing with my book is testing the water and cutting their teeth in fiction publishing. I went down the route of sending off manuscripts to literary agents for a while, and was told many times on blogs and places that I visited for advice online that it is all about persistence, and this is definitely true, but one way or another I gradually stopped sending them off, probably because I was distracted by a wasp flying through the window or something. There’s something to be said, though, for this new way of going about it, and there are online-publishing ‘success stories’. Just for the record, I would not include myself in that, nothing grand has occurred with my contribution to book shops yet and let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Things’re changing, though. And it’s worth seeing what the internet can offer you by way of being a digital middle man. Ultimately, though, and this is something I feel I’ve been repeating incessantly throughout this post – don’t start thinking about publishing stuff until you’ve written the thing. My main advice, if I have any at all, can be summed up here – just write down some stuff because you fancy doing it and see what you manage to make out of it, the ultimate goal should not be publication.

5) When is the physical version of Cult Fiction released?

1st of September, mate.

6) Do you really get asked that a lot?

Not really, no.

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About Ardie Collins

Novelist and Folk Bawler

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