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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Writing - Now, hold on!

‘Don’t hold on to poor work. If it was bad when it went in the drawer it will be just as bad when it comes out.’ – Jeanette Winterson

This is sound advice – up to a point. It may be poor in the quality of the writing, but the ideas written down, the concept, the actual plot may be workable after a suitable gestation period.

The title of this blog is taken from an article I had published in The Writer magazine in the 1970s.  In that piece I stated, ‘Never desert a story!’ I was referring to rejected stories, and advocated putting them on ice; keep them, don’t discard them.

I’ll quote from the piece here: ‘Seven years ago I wrote an unusual quite uncommercial story. It didn’t have a hope. But I liked the style, even though none of the editors I tried seemed to share my view. Last year I slanted it at a particular magazine and it was swept up eagerly. All in all, I probably altered one-tenth of the story – and, more important, the layout and style remained unchanged.’

Another story was rejected by the same magazine twice; I let it lie, gathering dust for a couple of years, then dusted it off and revised it with greater hindsight and experience and it was accepted.

Moral: Contradict Jeanette Winterson, if you feel like it.

Jeanette Winterson is the author of the phenomenally successful book Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985) which was filmed for TV in 1990. Her latest book is The Daylight Gate (2012).

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