king, cows and grammar

I’ve spent today trolling the Writer’s Market. Nothing new there. I’ve been flipping through the tome for the past two months. I prefer the online version but an ill-funded penchant for expensive handbags finds me, more often than not, at the virtual home of Nordies and Saks, when I should be studying the professional directory.

So I’m a book person, most of the time.

My current novel-research-text collection sits at twenty eight.

Hands down, the best: Stephen King’s “On Writing”.

I’ve not been a King fan since he scared the beegeezus out of me in broad daylight by a communal swimming pool with “The Stand”. But there is a reason the man is one of the most commercially successful writers of all time. I want to know what that reason is. I cant believe it’s all talent. I’ve seen too many wasters with boatloads of the stuff. That he debunks the myth of the pretentious artist, makes me like him all the more. Freaking brilliant. An old roommate of mine hates him. Her words: “He’s an overrated, superficial hack.”

To his critics, roommates included, I would just say : “Shut up and write something you bitter jealous cows.” To those interested in fine tuning their craft, grab the book at Amazon. Now! But don’t make a list of King pointers and show me over dinner. You’ll get slapped.

A fine little piece of work, and another 99p find, “How to be a Writer. Secrets from the Inside.” A handy dandy book of bullet points by Steward Ferris. Stocked full of tips that you should already know but for some reason never thought of. Pages (I dare not say chapters. The book is the size of your hand.) on networking and DIY marketing. My favourite bit: “Spend days and days on your first sentence: It’ll be worth it.” Erm…what about months and months??

When I was 12 an English teacher handed me a fly-swatter of a book. A good writer, she said, should never leave home without it. I carried it around until graduation and threw it out with the rest of my locker on the last day of school. I’ve bought four since then. The ubiquitous “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White. All the little rules you were too busy to pay attention to in grammar class, rolled into one boring, but necessary sidekick. I don’t care how much you think you known about grammar. You don’t know enough.

But first, go to Writer’s Market. Register. Hand over a few dollars. And get to reading. Word is its an absolute essential for I-aint-got-no-contacts freelancers. It’s also the definitive list of reputable agents and markets and, best of all, it will help delay the actual writing of your book for at least a month. I guarantee it.

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