by James Gault
Is writing novels a serious profession?
Last month, for a bit of fun, I posted a rather tongue-in-cheek suggestion on a few authors’ Facebook Groups. It turned out to be a bit of an atomic bomb though. I am still recovering from the fall-out.
The basis of my suggestion was that writing stories is a child’s activity, and that we authors had a bit of a cheek really in taking ourselves seriously. The problem with this kind of wry, ironic comment is that it can be taken at face value, especially by authors who really do take themselves seriously.
As author William H Gould reminded me, ‘A skilled author can tell a story to even those who don’t know them, that evokes strong emotions and makes them eager to hear more. Any writer who can accomplish that has earned the right to take themselves at least semi-seriously.’ And the writer Thomas Wythe pointed out that ‘writing is a form of art just like dance and painting’. Another author, Stephanie Jones was a little bit more equivocal: ‘I don’t take myself seriously at all, but I do take writers seriously. Storytelling and writing has so much power in a society’. So that was me told.
My castigation for casting doubt on the importance of the writing craft was pretty well unanimous, but not quite. Eleiren Bowen has a refreshing carefree attitude to her work. ‘Well, I don’t take myself seriously at all! This entire project I’m working on is the biggest joke of my life’, she said. The trouble is, Eleiren, I can’t help feeling that, really, you are totally committed to your writing. So I can’t bring myself to take your comment too seriously.
Of course, I really believe myself that writing is a serious pursuit. But, at the same time, it’s something we should be enjoying as well. So my tip to all writers is: Lighten up! After all, we want our readers to enjoy our work, not to sit there reading our stuff and having a miserable time.
About the author:
James Gault, born in Scotland, has recently retired to SW France after spending ten years in the Czech Republic. There he enjoys the sunshine, writes novels, short stories and English Language textbooks.
He also produces the on-line literary magazine Vox Lit with monthly notes by writers for writers and readers, news, features (short stories, poems and extracts from novels.)
He has written four novels, all available on Amazon as e-books and paperbacks:
Teaching Tania (Young Tania tries to put the world to rights with the help of her English teacher – a comic detective story)
Ogg (Supernatural being tries to teach teenage Antonia how to think rationally as they try to save the world from destruction – comic philosophical thriller)
The Redemption of Anna Petrovna (Young woman in ex-communist country tries to build a career in a totally corrupt society – political psychological thriller.
Best Intelligence – a detective thriller set in Scotland, France and Spain.
Current work in progress: the sequel to Best Intelligence and a satirical novella on the Trump-Putin relationship.
As well as ELT books and his novels, he has written short stories published in various reviews and magazines. In 2007, he won the writing prize from the British Czech and Slovak Society for his short story ‘Old Honza’s Day Out’.
In his time James has been an IT specialist, a businessman and a teacher as well as a writer, and has traveled extensively throughout Europe. He has worked with and taught English to students of many nationalities. He has an international outlook on life and his writing reflects both this and his other interests.
Apart from writing, his passions are politics, philosophy, film making, computer system development and his grandchildren.
Feature photo courtesy of Pixabay