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From a 'pathetic saddo' to a published author

3 June 2013

'The publication of my first book, The Cry of the Wolf - still in print after all these years with Andersen Press - turned me overnight from a pathetic saddo who wrote reams of stuff no one ever read into a published author. It's a narrow line.

Fifteen years! It goes to show what a hard thing good writing is, Sometimes writers do fall from the sky complete, like a shower of frogs - although it is usually frogs that fall, and not, say T S Eliot - but most of us have to work at it.

That's the bad news, but there's good news too, which is that it's not hard - like you have to have a huge brain or even be all that talented. It's hard like you have to practise...

The good news for writers is, we don't have to spend all our hours actually writing. We practice when we read. By the time you're an accomplished reader, you're probably already a quarter of the way there. But the rule remains. Practise and you'll get there. Don't and you won't. I've known many wonderfully talented people who were desperate to write but failed simply because they couldn't take the rejection. That's something else- you're going to need a skin like a rhinoceros.'

Melvyn Burgess, author of The Hit, in The Times