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Thursday, 21 May 2009

A writer's life...

Ann Thwaite, author of children's fiction and biographer extraordinaire, visited my home town recently. Her talk about her New Zealand connections and her memories of Otago engaged the audience, who were delighted to swop bits of family history with her. At the tea after wards Ann Thwaite agreed to let me interview her for 'Writer's News' and we arranged time for a telephone interview. Our chat ranged over the writer's lot and she confessed that her advice to a young would-be writer today would be 'DON'T'.

I knew what she meant. I do not have a long and distinguished career as Ms Thwaite's has been, nor have I won prizes for my books, but to be a writer today means starvation. If one has an inheritance, or a partner who will support one, then writing full time is possible. Even a freelance writer today often cannot sell enough articles to pay the bills.

So working in snatches of stolen time, writing when tired and with half one's mind on the problems of that other life, one ends up with a novel one is sure would be much better if life did not get in the way. But with more sacrifice and effort it is dragged into publishable shape.

After all that, then facing the mountainous problem of finding an agent and publisher, a problem increasing in difficulty by the month, I am left wondering why anyone would want to be a writer, and why people persist in thinking it is a lucrative and glamorous job.