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Being Published 6: The Book

As a Mentor and Teacher and Writer and Reader, there's something I want to say to you

Floating around on the net is this excellent post by Bruinhilda, As a Library Worker There's Something I Want to Say to You. It was originally posted on Tumblr and, as with the original Jerusha Cowless, Agony Aunt column, and "Everything About My Writing is Awful and No, I'm Not OK", I found my mind riffing off it, to create a version for writers. So here goes, with huge thanks to Bruinhilda for the inspiration:

As a mentor and teacher and writer and reader, there's something I want to say to you:

You do not have to apologise for the writing you chose to write.

At all. To anyone. You owe nobody any explanations; you need no excuse or "good reason" to be writing this story, poem, article or book.

You don't have to be ashamed of wanting to write "bad" things. You want to write the next Twilight or Scruples? Be my guest.

You don't have to be ashamed of wanting to write "good" things. You want to write the next Wolf Hall or Austerlitz? Be my guest.

You don't have to be ashamed of wanting to write "easy" things. You want to write the next Riders or Rose Petal Summer? Be my guest.

You don't have to be ashamed of wanting to write "difficult" things. You want to write the next Gravity's Rainbow or A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing? Be my guest.

You don't have to be ashamed of wanting to write for the sake of art.

You don't have to be ashamed of wanting to write for the sake of money.

You don't have to be ashamed of wanting to write for the sake of human progress.

You don't have to be ashamed of wanting to write for the sake of laughter.

Want to write a banal, cookie-cutter-plot mystery, romance, mum-lit or thriller? Those are always fun. Regular readers buy them by the towering stack. Ask Twitter for recommendations - they've read them all. 50 Shades of Oh Fucking No? Why not - I guarantee when you see the Large Print edition in your PLR statement, you'll cry for imagining a happy, vision-impaired reader. Check out the rainbow possibilities of erotica - and experiment yourself, or let your characters do it. Don't be afraid to think of it: readers want to read it for the same reason you want to write it.

Want to write a book that will make everyone hate you and think you're a monster? Yes, that's an honourable tradition. No, we don't think you're an arsehole for being willing to write such a book, nor for judging for yourself what you should and shouldn't write.

You are not too old to write the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Babysitter's Club or Captain Underpants. You are not too young to write the next All Passion Spent, Finnegan's Wake, or Love in the Time of Cholera (nor to make your own mind up about an Oxford comma like that one). There's nothing wrong with a woman writing Jack Reacher or Fight Club. There is nothing wrong with a man writing Lady Jane Grey or Mrs Dalloway.

You do not have to pull the shame face and offer me an excuse when you tell me about what you write. I don't care if when I last read that kind of book I threw it against the wall: you have the right to write it and enjoy writing it, if it's enjoyable to you; THAT'S WHY HUMAN BEINGS WRITE IN THE FIRST PLACE.

If humans only wrote pure, unproblematic literature everyone approved of, or admired, if all authors were of unquestionable virtue and enough-but-not-too-much intelligence, there would be no books at all. Or music. Or movies. It would be utterly fucking boring. And there would be no point in having bookshelves, let alone libraries.

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