Have you ever had one, or more, of those
frustrating, nightmarish days when you, and the
page you should be working on, share the same
Don’t you just wish there was someone you
could turn to for inspiration?
For one particular author, there was someone...
After a restless, sleep-deprived night in a bed
that offered no comfort at all I went, somewhat
limply, to my desk in the vain hope that I might
break my mental deadlock.
However, the blank page is no longer empty, but
the poor standard of the handwriting is only
matched by the terrible grammar.
I read a little of it :
Do not lose hert if se words do not come. Sey are
sere vvaiting. Vvaiting for se right storrie.
I close my eyes and shake my head. When I open
them again the writing has changed to plain
English, and it makes for an interesting read.
So, I take Erik’s advice and all of a
sudden, writing is fun again. It's not hard to
come up with ideas because I’m writing for
me, and I like the stuff I write.
But what happens when the story is finished? Do
you find yourself loving and hating the finished
article? It’s a good story. It must be. You
wrote it and enjoyed writing every single word...
but still something doesn’t sit right with
you. You may even reach the stage of wanting to
scream in frustration as you can’t see
But Erik can. Check out his advice.
How do I get others to help me, as Erik suggests?
Look around on the internet, ask around about
writers groups and workshops with people who are
willing to exchange reviews of your work, for
reviews of their work. That's what I did and
despite my initial reservations I stuck with it.
A member of a workshop, you’ve performed a
few reviews and have submitted your own work for
similar treatment. Then you wait... and wait...
and wait, all the time wondering why some of the
people who have promised to return the favour of
a review haven’t responded.
More than a little annoying it almost got me to
the point where I wanted to “name and
shame” the individuals concerned. But Erik
saved me from that potentially disastrous action.
Slowly, but surely, I get reviews and one by one
they add to my confidence. They are helpful,
polite, courteous and so reassuring.
But then, out of the blue, I get a knee in the
groin, a slap round the face, a kick in the butt,
you name it, I felt it!
It was the worst review I could ever have
imagined anyone getting. The reviewer was, as far
as I could tell, out for blood. They wrote more
(atrocious) words in their review than I had
written in a piece of comedic flash fiction.
Well, that was it! My dander was well and truly
up and I was preparing for an all out war with
this “person”. Note: the quotes
should tell you that I did’t think they
were a person at all.
Fortunately I took a little time to calm down and
in the interim I found another missive from Erik.
I successfully avoid a war, and life returns to
That is until I receive a review from a
“God”. A published, and well
established author has performed a review of my
work. It is brilliant, insightful, helpful both
in broad and in fine and I am at a loss for
I look at their recently submitted work and it
is phenomenal. I read, and read, and read again
hoping to find something, anything to say that
can be viewed as something better than ass
I give up. Seriously. It is so daunting that I
am prepared to send an email of apology to the
author. I guess I am too scared to say
Of course Erik has an opinion on this subject
So, the work continues until I have, what I
think is work that is ready for submission to
an agent/publisher or even an independant
publishing web site.
Then I start hearing about things like query
letters, manuscripts, a synopsis, an elevator
line or headline and I am thrown into a state
of blind panic.
Not knowing what these things were I went in
search of answers.
What the hell is a synopsis, or an elevator
line? How do I format a manuscript -
isn’t there just a single accepted format?
My mind is behaving like a cat on a hot tin roof.
It won’t stay still long enough for me to
focus on a single subject.
Erik to the rescue, and then some - two pages
When I have completed my preparations and
I’m ready to venture into the big, some
say frightening, world of publishing I encounter
yet another problem.
I am standing at a crossroads. I have come from
‘author-town’ but now have to make
a choice about which road to take. Do I go down
‘agent avenue’, ‘publisher
parade’ or take the ‘independant
The first question that I have to answer is
‘What genre is your story?’
Uncertainty plus fear of failure =
procrastination and I manage to avoid making a
Erik, though extremely patient, doesn’t
wait too long before helping me over this
Decision made, submission sent out and waiting
for replies. The first one comes in - and
it’s a ‘no’. Never mind, wait
for the next one.
And the next?
And so on.
All of these letters lead to restless, haunted
dreams in which I am in an aircraft at 30,000
feet and my attention is drawn to a bright-red
neon arrow with ‘rejected’ written on
it. It is huge and everyone on the plane is
gasping. Except me. I know where it is pointing.
The tip rests squarely on the crest of the roof
of my house. Somehow the other passengers get to
know it is my house and they all turn to look at
me; sympathetic smiles, sneers and expressions of
horror on their faces.
Then I wake up covered in sweat. I feel terrible
and desperately want to avoid opening the mail
because I know what each and every letter will
I am so glad when the next letter from Erik makes
me look at those letters from a different
My document tray is immediately relabelled
‘No, thank you’ and the word
‘rejected’ - which is totally absent
in all of the replies - is obliterated by the
The mail continues to be the same until that
fateful day when a ‘No, thank you’
isn’t one... it’s a ‘Yes,
please’. Oh My Fairy Godmother, I
can’t believe it!
The shocked expression on my face mutates into
a fixed, moronic grin. Someone is saying that
they like, and want to publish my work.
Pop the top off a beer and down it in one smooth
swallow to celebrate. Don’t know how I
didn’t spill any of it as I’m still
in ‘smiling moron’ mode.
Wanna tell someone... gotta tell someone... who?
Everyone, of course! Especially those who doubted
me. Wipe the smile off their faces that’s
for god-damned sure!
Sometimes I hate Erik, but even on this occasion
it would seem he’s right. Take a look at
what he has to say about it.
Wow. Erik isn’t just Erik... he is so much
more. It’s kind of sad to think that I may
have just heard the last from him. My
‘victory dance’ seems somewhat muted
In the ensuing months I continue to write, almost
wishing to have a crisis so that Erik will have
to come back. But nothing draws him out of
After a year of hard work I complete a
magnificent story. It is polished, sent out and I
await the replies.
In the meantime I start my next project. It is a
disaster. All I manage to produce are shadows of
the characters from my previous book. Even the
mannerisms and speech characteristics are the
Page after page is written, and page after page
is thrown away. This is not meant to be a sequel.
I want to write something fresh and
invigorating, but the phantoms of the past will
not easily be laid to rest.
At last I have the crisis, and Erik responds in
And so it was. Just a short break from the
routine, the characters, the scenes and all the
other paraphernalia was exactly what I needed.