“Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.” Samuel Johnson
Last Saturday afternoon I accompanied my daughter to a book sale in Montreal. The sale was organized by the Friends of the Library. The place was not very far from our home and easy to locate. Inside the arena where the sale was taking place there was already a significant crowd by the time we reached. And rows and rows of books, in both French and English. My French unfortunately being poor I walked over to the English section. Books were arranged on tables sideways, so it made it easy to read the title and the author’s name. They had books from the old masters as well as the latest bestsellers. Hence I indulged myself in the process of choosing what I thought were good books for me to read. I put the books written by authors I liked into empty cardboard boxes placed underneath the tables. Books written by authors whose names I hadn’t even heard of I had to check first to see if their story was to my liking.
After only a short time I noticed that people were, like me, scanning the jackets and only afterwards either returning the book back to the table or placing it in their boxes. It dawned on me there and then that people only chose what books to read based on the stories.
Different people love different things. No one understands their fascination with something. Sometimes when I find something interesting, it’s hard to expect others to be interested in the same thing for the same reasons. We all have different desires and likes, hence we make different choices in life. As a writer I write about subjects that interest me most, or rather I only write about subjects that interest me. Then follows the task of writing the story I like in such a way that someone else would also be interested in it. In the words of Margaret Atwood:
“You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer.”
You need the nerve to be original in choosing your subject matter, in telling your story in such a way, and in making it as original and as believable as you best can so that it will stand out among thousands of other books. You need the nerve to write a story or novel of long-lasting value, something which will be read and liked by everyone anywhere.
As Gerald Ochs Davis Sr. writes:
“As difficult as it is for a writer to find a publisher- admittedly a daunting task- it is twice as difficult for a publisher to sort through the chaff, select the wheat, and profitably publish a worthy list.”