14 July 2012 - SEEKING ADVICE

Quote of the day:

"Life sucks, but don't let it suck you in."

Clancy Tucker

Writing tip of the day:

G'day guys,

I've always had a fairly simple rule in regard to writing, 'Don't show it to your mum or your dog'. Your dog will lick you and your mum will praise it. Never give it to someone who will tell you what you want to hear. That will get you nowhere fast, and certainly not improve your writing. Give it to someone who knows what their about. Cop it on the chin and be prepared for some tough love. So, what do you do with your beautifully crafted piece of work? Here's a few ideas.

1. I write young adult fiction. Over the years I have gathered a collection of wonderful young readers who read my work and complete a simple questionnaire. They are kids from 8-16 years-of-age, Aboriginal, Christian, Muslim, male and female, and many come from broken homes. They are avid readers who love the challenge. Why do I seek their advice? Easy. They are my clients and, in this ever-changing world, they are more switched onto technology, kid-speak, issues etc. One of the questions asks the kids to rate my manuscript out of ten. Mm ... one I received from a great reader gave me 9.5. In brackets she wrote, 'I'd have given you ten but one of the dogs died.'

I post my manuscripts and questionnaires to their homes and they devour them. They also receive a self-addressed envelope to return the questionnaire. There are side benefits for me.

a. I'm the only writer they know.

b. I'm probably the only adult who asks them to be rated out of ten. Think about it. Kids are always told what to do by adults.

c. I bet I am the only one to send them mail, other than birthday cards from Nan and Pop.

Benefits for me? My readers keep me focused on real issues that concern them. They also give me interesting slants on how I can improve my work. I love receiving their questionnaires. Without fail, I rip the envelope open and read their notes before I walk inside the house smiling. However, when I receive a rejection letter, I walk inside, rip the envelope open, read the ever so brief 'NO!', leave it on the kitchen table and head back to my study to continue working. Hence, if you look inside 'Gunnedah Hero', you will find a stack of names - my readers. Thanks guys. Love ya work!

2. Find yourself a damn good editor. I did - Julie Jay - www.rebuspress.com.au Julie and Fiona Sievers are brilliant. Julie handles the manuscript, whilst Fiona does great work on poetry. Both are published authors. I've tried several other editors but didn't find them satisfactory. Why do I prefer Julie's work? Simple, she cut's to the chase, asks the right questions, points out obvious mistakes and makes great suggestions. So, it's all about finding someone you can work with - someone who will enhance your work - a partnership.

However, just because someone has qualifications does not mean you can work with them or, that they are any good. Suggestion: give them a short story first and check out their comments.

Be careful: This will make you laugh. I didn't. The first contract offered to me for 'Gunnedah Hero' was by an Australian publisher. However, they wanted me to pay $368.00 to an independent editor to asess the manuscript. I said okay and sent the manuscript, chapter summary and brief story synopsis with a cheque. Ten days later I received half an A4 page assessment which was atrocious. Three things were obvious:

a. The editor had only read the chapter summary and synopsis.

b. The story was all about DROUGHT - dry, parched land with no water, cattle dying etc. Well, the editor tried to write that word twice and both times it was written as DRAUGHT! She also got the dates seriously wrong ... 1850, not 1910. Helloooooooooooooooooooo.

c. It was the easiest $368.00 she had ever made.

What did I do? Steaming, I rang the publishing editor and calmly told her about the expensive assessment, major spelling mistakes and wrong dates. She apologised profusely. That was one of the reasons why I did not sign their contract. 

3. Join a writers group, attend writer's functions and seek a writing soulmate, one who is switched on. Share your work and be honest. Again, do not seek someone who will stroke your ego. This is a tough, competitive game. You are competing with people with passion and talent. So, if you ain't got it, find another hobby. Now, go look at the quote of the day. Sometimes life does suck - big time!

Keep writing!

Don't be shy ... leave a comment or send me an email: clancy_tucker@hotmail.com

Thanks for listening.

I'm Clancy Tucker.


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