Friday, 8 July 2011

I Must Be Mistaken

I think I scared a few people last week with my neurotic perfectionism. I think one of them was me. So this week, I'd like to tell you why you shouldn't listen to a word I say and must immediately run off and make as many mistakes as you can. I give you my reasons:

  1. What do I know? Seriously, I haven't even got a book on the shelves yet. Why are you even still reading this?

  2. You appear to still be reading this. I like your style - you won't be pushed around by anyone. I bet if I told you to do something, you'd go out and do the total opposite.

  3. Under no circumstances, transfer £50,000 into my bank account.

  4. Also, do not give me a multi-book publishing deal, a new brain or a lifetime's supply of cake.

  5. You probably don't believe me, anyway. Every year, millions of couples have their first baby. Millions of friends try to tell said couples how said babies will change/ruin their lives and said couples completely ignore them. This is a basic evolutionary trick, because if people understood how impossibly difficult it is to bring a baby into the world, no-one would ever have children. Exactly the same principle applies to writing a first novel – everyone thinks it will be easy for them, because they are "special."

  6. This blog post was going to be about something completely different. But that clearly would have been a mistake. It was also, at one point, entitled "Serendipitydoodah" – you can draw your own conclusions about that.

  7. Remember, no-one can tell you how to write. They will try, oh yes they will, My Pretty. But all they can ever tell you is how they write. Only you can find the method, circumstances and subject matter that suit you. I was recently praised at a crit group for coming up with a new book idea that was "Very Nick." This is only because I have spent a lot of time in the past writing stories that were "Patently not Nick." Once you exclude all of the things you should never have attempted, only the good stuff is left.

  8. It's why CTRL-Z was invented. See, I just pressed it and deleted something really funny. That'll teach you.

  9. You're unlikely to make the same mistake twice. Unless you are very stupid. You're not very stupid, are you? You could always try reading more slowly if you're having trouble keeping up.

  10. Wait a minute, people have more than one child, don't they? Isn't that making the same mistake twice? This doesn't count because their lives are already wrecked. It's like fitting an extra person in the lifeboat.

  11. No-one ever learnt a thing from getting everything right. Except how to be smug. 90% of the candidates on The Apprentice claim that they have never failed at anything.
    1. They are lying.
    2. This is why they are so utterly useless.

  12. Art must take risks, or it is not art. Profound, huh?

  13. What do you mean, "huh?" I've gone right off you now.

  14. There's always a second draft And a third and fourth and seventeenth. They're only words. They are expendable.

  15. Every mistake makes your writing better. For instance, I've decided that this blog post has been one big mistake from start to finish.


P.S. I'm still waiting on that cake. Whenever you're ready.


  1. I have no cake but you can have a bite of my pasty if you like. AS to why I read your blog, that's a good question...

  2. I'm afraid I ate the last of the cake. But I can bake another. You do believe me, don't you?

  3. Serendipitydoodah serendipityday - that's not just a blog post. that's an entire philosophy!

  4. Personally I think that this post is probabaly very 'Nick' and so am glad you wrote it.

    I'm glad you clarified your take on perfection because I have to admit it nearly made me wet myself. I have perfection issues, I don't like it, I think it's evil!

    You can share my cheesecake if you like.

  5. A seventeenth draft? Excuse me while I drown myself in coffee. Very entertaining post. Thanks for the distraction!

  6. Very funny. Was there beer involved?

  7. No beer - I work only under the influence of naturally-occurring brain chemicals. Which might be worse!

  8. Well, an anagram of MISTAKE is MAKES IT, after all. But of course, that doesn't make you feel any better when the stuff you thought was good turns out, in hindsight, to be the stuff you had to wade through to get to better......

    Which is why I want carved on my headstone the words 'Damn! I was just getting the hang of it!'