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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

#BookADayUK; A Reader Event For October. Day 8

The theme for day 8 is, 'Best bookshop find'. Difficult for a true reader. I mean, where do you start?

I've bought hundreds, possibly thousands, of books during my life so far. How to select the best ever from a bookshop? That means leaving out dozens and dozens of really good books, potentially giving the impression they weren't up to scratch, simply by their exclusion. But a choice must be made.

Mine would therefore be Dorothea Brande's excellent work, Becoming a Writer.

Why this book out of all those I've bought and read?

Whenever I'm asked to give advice to would-be writers, I always suggest that they read this book BEFORE they put pen to paper. And I do this because so many wannabes really shouldn't be trying to write. Too many have poor English skills and many more simply see it, erroneously, as a way to make a quick fortune. It isn't: The average income from writing for an author in the UK is less than £1000 per year. Yes, you read that correctly. Less than £1000 per year. And that average includes such best-selling authors as J.K. Rowling. Imagine how that skews the figures and means that most writers actually earn significantly less than the wonderful £1000.

Dorothea Brande's book sets exercises designed to let the reader see whether the life of the writer is actually the right life. She uses a great deal of common sense and the accumulated knowledge from teaching would-be writers to explain what being a writer really means.

For those who do her exercises and discover they can develop the discipline and application required, her book is a constant encouragement to do well. I first picked this up in a bookshop in the mid 1980s, when the book had been reprinted after a number of years of unavailability. I pounced on it the moment I saw it, as I had read a borrowed version some years earlier.
So, that's my choice for today. Do you have one?

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