Bill Keeth contributes his four-pennorth
[Editor’s Note: this piece was Bill Keeth’s response to a story I posted on the blog:
Thank you very much indeed for your kind suggestion (The Candid Storyteller, as above) that my personal contribution to ‘How to Tell a Great Story’ via the WISP column adds value to it. If I have not responded sooner, please don’t imagine that this is because I perhaps think there is little of substance or interest in the various points you and T.Selva (Sunday With Selva) have to make concerning the abiding importance of positive thought and utterance. Rather is it, I do assure you, because your comments sorely tempt me to stray way beyond the normal remit of the WISP column and into the realm of personal opinion and life experience as opposed to qualified comment.
Certainly, with regard to your critical review of Write It Self-Publish It Sell It, I was really pleased to note that, despite your personal preference in the matter (and mine, too, incidentally) you were easily able to discern that (with the book’s comprising 17 chapters and 14 appendices) it was simply for reasons of financial economy that there were no spaces between chapters. And this demonstrated to me, too, that you had personally wrestled with the problems attendant upon self-publication at some time or another. Moreover, I also considered your actual criticism of WISP’s perceived shortcoming in this respect as a definite bonus from any reader’s point of view. Because true literary criticism is quite different from mere partisanship in that it seeks to evaluate the good (or preferable) and the bad (or less preferable) for the benefit of its readership.
By way of contrast, permit me if you will to present two examples of literary criticism I have found less than helpful, yet which just a moment’s charitable (or even logical) thought might have vastly improved upon.
One critic took the trouble to write to me at my home address to tell me: “I can’t get into Manchester Kiss; it’s not my kind of stuff; and I don’t like the format.”
This is, of course, so bad in terms of literary criticism as to amount to a total non-comment – and certainly Amazon would erase it upon request were anyone to presume to post it as a customer review. Yet I found it wounding indeed, reason being these comments were thoughtlessly mailed to me from a local address immediately prior to the book launch for Manchester Kiss when I was going to need all the confidence I might muster.
Elsewhere there’s a review of WISP extant which might have been improved upon, it seems to me, given:
a) a more thoughtful rendering of the barbed comment “promoting his two self-published novels at every opportunity” as, say, “quoting throughout from his personal experience of novel writing”, and
b) a less grandiloquent statement than “the book would be half the length if he removed the repetition of phrases and ideas” which, as it stands, would tend to imply that fully 126 pages of WISP is verbiage.
Nay, I’m not having that!
Meanwhile, so as not to stray too far beyond my remit, permit me, if you will, to comment upon just two aspects of your endorsement of positive thought and utterance.
# Wish others well and avoid holding grudges. Somebody I know once made a point of not speaking to me for several years. Why was that? Well, I subsequently heard from a mutual acquaintance that I had failed to acknowledge the other party in passing. Nothing of the sort. The truth of the matter was that I had failed to recognise the other party in passing.
What a total waste of time and effort!
# Do not allow unpleasant emotion to control you. I had the great misfortune of spending many years of my professional life with a person I detested. How I longed to escape therefrom – which, eventually, I did. [See Manchester Kiss, Chapter 8: ‘Time Off for Bad Behaviour’.]
Naturally, I do deeply resent the fact that I was not best treated by this person at work. But, being a great believer in Providence, it is not something I dwell upon. If I did, I would be that detestable person’s prisoner still.
‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,’ said John Lennon. (The only time he was divinely inspired, it seems to me.)
Because it occurs to me, too, that, if I had been better treated at work, then maybe I would not have written Every Street in Manchester and Manchester Kiss. For whereas pain is a vital creative force, contentment probably is not.
Best wishes and regards,
© Bill Keeth
Bill Keeth’s books, Every Street in Manchester ISBN 1859880649 & Write It Self-Publish It Sell It ISBN 97809558863 are available from Amazon and all good book shops. Bill can also be contacted via his website, http://www.novelnovella.com.