I just noticed this courtesy of Neil Gaiman’s twitter thingummy doodle.
I could imagine Jonathan Ross had always wanted to write a graphic novel, more to the point, I could imagine he’s been practising for some time and it might actually be quite good. He’s a man who lives, sleeps, eats and breathes graphic novels so he’s not actually an example of what I’m annoyed about but he’s reminded me why I am. I guess he’s just knocked the scab off the wound allowing my suppurating bile to spill forth into the benign world of the blogosphere. Being who he is, of course, getting published – and strong sales – are a given regardless. Sigh.
Ok so he’s probably one of the ones who deserves it. Some of them do. As Ian Jury said, “there ain’t half been some clever bastards,” yeh, “Lucky bleeders…”
Look at Ben Elton – clearly he was just too talented at too many things. Maybe the stand-up thing was an accident, you get the impression he’s always considered himself an author… But there we all are thinking he’s an edgy comedian and then a novel comes out and suddenly we all realise how much of Blackadder he wrote…
Years ago I did stand-up for a while, I didn’t want to be a comic but I seriously believed I had more chance of making it as one than I did of getting my book published by merit, alone. And I reckoned that if I made it in comedy, getting my book published would be a great deal easier… Yeh, I was young and naive… or was I? Probably, yes, about making it in stand-up but about making it in publishing? Even then, no.
In the end I got married and staying out until 3 o’clock in the morning on a regular basis got complicated so I sat down.
I do get a bit pissed off, though, with the idea which seems prevalent at the moment, that anyone famous can write a better novel than the rest of us or that somebody of 21 can turn “I got famous really quickly and it’s been a bit of a gas!” into an interesting autobiography. The idea that there’s a book in everyone and writing it – or at least having somebody write it for them – is easy. I take issue with the idea that publishing somebody’s work because it’s not bad and they’re famous is a good idea. Just because we readers know somebody’s name it doesn’t make them a good (or ‘ready’)writer. Unless they’ve spent most of their lives honing their writing skills the way any other author has to, the chances are their work isn’t going to be as good.
Could I do Lewis Hamilton’s job as well as he does without any training or a lifetime learning my craft the way he did? No. But ask the same question about an author and suddenly the answer to that question is “oh yes, of course you can, it’s a piece of piss”. Clearly writing well is deceptively easy…
And all this celeb writing blocks the rest of us. When somebody famous gets their novel published because of who they are another unknown author is turned away. For every Jordan who ‘writes’ a book a new author who might have been published some years ago stays unknown…
Does this sound like sour grapes?
(Pauses for thought.)
Well, OK, yes, it is sour grapes.
But it’s taken me since 1997 to write a novel I am actually proud of. I’d be fairly mortified if my first effort had made it to press, so it’s lucky my bid for domination of the comedy circuit failed, but now… Well, I know this one’s not bad but with the right help and guidance it could be good… maybe better than good. And I want it to be the best I can make it. With the help and advice of a decent agent and editor, I could cover the next 10 years’ worth of struggle and effort in about a third of the time. I learn fast but I’m rubbish at the dissection part, someone else does that, shows me and we have a scales from the eyes moment and I’m set. But with all that celebrity bollocks out there, it looks unlikely that I’ll have that opportunity. Yeh, as the Americans would say I’m pissed.
Do you detect a swing back towards the e-book…? Yes… when I hear the results of my latest submission. In the meantime, I must sort it out with a decent cover.