G J Rutherford

Writer, Caregiver & Ever So Free With His Old Man Advice.

Month: December, 2015

The Path I’ve Walked…

Over the last few years, I’ve penned many, many novels, each of them a joy to write. The creative process feels incredible, but it didn’t make my early words any easier to read. – The problem is, in my formative years of writing, I couldn’t see my work objectively, and neither did those loving cheerleaders I had as my early betas.

This is why I cringe when I see so many fledging writers throw their soul at Amazon, and then sell what is left of it trying to convince others to buy a substandard novel. – Maybe I’m the world’s poorest writer, but the first few million words formed by me were not of a standard EVEN THOUGH those who read them told me otherwise. There was no incentive for me to learn or grow. Why should I? I was already ‘awesome.’

But then the day came when an accomplished writer stumbled across the opening few pages of one of my novels. What a painful revelation it was, and what an important awakening. To paraphrase, he told me ‘dude, you write crap and, until you accept that, you’ll never improve.’

Over the next few years, I encouraged all my readers to beat me hard, discarding those who refused to do other than exercise their repertoire of superlatives. I did not need my ego massaged, I needed my literary ability challenged.

So here I am, seven years on. – I’ve no publishing credits, no agent, but I understand my words now hold value. There’s a good chance I may never be published, but 2018 will see me submit my work to literary agents. – If one says yes, I promise to let you know and, who knows, perhaps you and others reading this may one day pick up a novel with my name on the cover. If you do, bear in mind that I invested over ten thousand hours exorcising substandard words so that more worthy ones could emerge.

Can you say the same?


It’s all about the prose, isn’t it?

I feel a bit of a buffoon.

Although I’ve written several hours a day for over five years, I’ve accepted it’s a very long journey to literary proficiency, and there’s always another step in front of me. Always. – A day where I make a mistake is an opportunity to grow and learn. Trust me, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow over the years…

So, anyhow, I’m a buffoon. Earlier this year, I spent a few hours writing a query to a couple of agents and sent them off. – After all, it is about the standard of the novel I’ve written, yes? The query is just a polite introduction to it so an agent knows a little about  my prose, and me, before reading.

How could I have been so damned naive? I rambled out a letter, checked it thoroughly and sent it, attaching excerpt and synopsis.

What I failed to realise is just how many other queries from other writers I am competing against. Perhaps a good analogy would be to suggest the query letter was a job application, and the attached excerpt the interview. Which employer in their right mind would consider asking a potential employee to attend an interview who’d sent them a misshapen and ill thought out job application?

So now I think I get it, and that’s all thanks to @njcrosskey who looked at a query letter I had intended to send. After her laughter had ebbed, she pointed out a dozen glaring oopses, and several omissions that were essential to a query. Together with a link to ‘query shark’ I now feel a little more confident, and a lot less like a buffoon.

So, no, it’s not all about the prose.

Or at least not until you’ve earned the right for it to be.