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The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minett

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Article by writingie © 9 November 2015 G.J. Minett .
Posted in the Magazine ( · Crime ).

Nothing prepares you for publication.

Nothing.

You think you can guess what it will feel like but that’s all you’re doing. You’re guessing. And however fertile your imagination might be, whatever scenarios you might dream up for yourself, you almost certainly haven’t come close to the real thing. It’s something else!

As I write this, yesterday I was an unpublished author. A few minutes after midnight, I was a different person altogether. My wife Elaine and I stayed up to count off the minutes and seconds, waiting for the confirmation to come through on Kindle that the novel was definitely in there. And when it finally came through, everything had changed. All those years of slogging away had finally paid off. A glass of brandy, a few hours of patient waiting, a flicker on the Kindle screen and bingo. That was all it took.

GJ MinettExcept it wasn’t of course. The tired old cliché about the writer’s journey may be past its sell-by date but there has to be more than a grain of truth in it for it to have acquired that status. Most writers will tell you the road they’ve travelled has been a long and arduous one – imagine, if you will, crossing the Sahara in flipflops with a camel on your back. It’s like a badge of honour we all like to fetch out of the drawer on ceremonial occasions. We’ve all had our setbacks, those maddening rejection letters which talk in glowing terms for the first three paragraphs about all the things that are just right about the novel before resorting to that word however – is there a more disheartening word in the entire English language? – which seems to be the obligatory opener to the final few lines. We’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and then come back for the kiss-me-quick hat and any other indignities life might choose to throw at us because that’s what we do. We keep ploughing on until some divine revelation persuades us to stop because let’s face it . . . logic and all empirical evidence has had no effect on us at all.

So I’m assuming it’s safe to conclude that there will be plenty of others out there who are still in the position I was in yesterday, wondering just when it’s going to be their turn. And it occurred to me that maybe if I were to present my experiences not as a journey but as a 24-hour day, they might draw some comfort from the realisation that the phrase late in the day is not a synonym for never. You never know what’s just around the corner. So . . . here’s my timeline, for what it’s worth.

00.00: born – not writing just yet

02.00 – 03.00: love of books inspired by Saturday morning trips to the library

03.00 – 05.00: imagination stirred by Buchan, Stevenson, Haggard, Forrester. First hints of interest in writing adventure stories under the misapprehension that longer = better

05.00 – 07.00: Hardy, Dickens, Eliot, the Brontes and Austen. Writing tending towards the romantic with lashings of saccharine and self-pity

07.00 – 12.00: first attempt at a novel. Highly derivative (into Tom Sharpe). Attention from an agent and generous compliments from a distinguished publisher. Close . . . but no cigar

12.00 – 19.00: extremely prolonged afternoon nap, taken under the guise of chasing career, raising family, the usual suspects. A few short stories entered for competitions, two or three novels submitted directly to slush piles, enough activity to offer a hint of a pulse but the patient’s essentially sleepwalking

19.00 – 20.00: part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester. Otherwise known as the last throw of the dice. A chance to find out just how good I am. Also a chance to swallow huge doses of humble pie on learning the answer.

20.00 – 23.00: using work produced for the MA to enter and win competitions, thus enabling me to put together a CV that might persuade an agent and/or publisher to read what I’ve sent

23.00: Find agent. Tick

23.30: Find publisher. Tick. Two-book deal.

23.59: pour the glass of brandy

00.00: start of a brand new day which won’t last as long as the previous one did but oh my God . . . the things I’m going to pack into however many hours I’m granted.

I’m on a new journey now. I’d be naive to assume it will be a stroll in the park but at least the camel can carry me for once. I’ll still talk in reverential terms about what a slog it’s been and I’ll come up with new sources of frustration (excuses) but I suspect it will be different somehow because I’ll know deep down that, in comparative terms, I really haven’t got anything to complain about.

My number one priority for the next few weeks will be to practise, practise, practise in front of a mirror until I can answer the question what do you do for a living? with the words I’m a novelist without feeling ridiculous. I suspect it will be quite a while before I manage to convince myself that the king is not altogether as naked as the day that he was born.

Good luck to all of you – keep writing!

(c) G.J. Minett

About The Hidden Legacy

1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.

2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .

Recently divorced and with two young children, Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she’s invited to travel all the way to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman’s will, she’s far from convinced the journey will be worthwhile.

But when she arrives, the news is astounding. Eudora Nash has left Ellen a beautiful cottage worth an amount of money that could turn her life around. There’s just one problem – Ellen has never even heard of Eudora Nash.

Her curiosity piqued, Ellen and her friend Kate travel to the West Country in search of answers. But they are not the only ones interested in the cottage, and Ellen little imagines how much she has to learn about her past . . .

G.J. Minett’s debut novel, The Hidden Legacy, is a powerful and suspenseful tale exploring a mysterious and sinister past.

Published by Bonnier Publishing’s exciting new Twenty7 Books imprint, pick up your copy of The Hidden Legacy online here!

G.J. Minett studied at Cambridge and then spent many years as a teacher of foreign languages. He studied for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, and won the 2010 Chapter One Prize for unpublished novels with the opening chapter of The Hidden Legacy.


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