To Tell or Not To Tell


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I’ve been reading a Ruth Rendell book, Not In The Flesh, a crime novel involving a writer. In it, Inspector Wexford discusses how some writers will discuss every aspect of their novel in detail with everyone, and some keep their book, even the fact they’re writing one, completely secret. He mentions a writer he knew whose boyfriend found and read the first ten chapters of her book. He loved it, could quote at length from it, but for her it was ruined, and she couldn’t finish it.


I’m the kind that doesn’t like to discuss the book until its ready. When I was writing my first book I told barely anyone about it. I don’t think I even mentioned I was sending it off to agents until it was accepted. I felt if I talked about it, someone would say something that would make me stop writing it. I also felt talking about it would ruin it somehow – like a cat walking across wet concrete.


I know some authors love to talk about their books with everyone. They feel it stimulates the writing process, and gives them ideas they may not have thought about. I occasionally discuss concepts and characters and parts of the plot with a chosen few people, but mostly, I keep my writing to myself until it’s done. I was very uncomfortable when I had to submit a synopsis of the second book before I felt I had finished.


But maybe talking about it would be good. The few discussions I do have help. Maybe I could get more ideas. Maybe I could spot mistakes before they happen. Maybe I could see different strands developing rather than the ones I had thought of.


I think perhaps it’s a defensive move on my part, to not talk about something before its finished. After all, if no-one knows about it, no-one can criticise it. But perhaps I am also missing out by not chatting about to everyone.













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