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QUALIFICATIONS AND TRAINING As this topic is listed under the careers section, I am wondering what advice would be given to a would-be novelist? Be good at English, imaginative, computer literate with good word processing skills. I would say these are the basics that would be needed. Perhaps a creative writing course of study would also be useful. But would this lead to a job as a novelist? Difficult to answer isn't it. However, read on for my own thoughts on the subject. RADIO INTERVIEW Whilst driving I was listening to the radio and they were interviewing a novelist who had just written her first book. Unfortunately I tuned in too late to find out who she was or what her book is called, but I decided to listen anyway, seeing as I would like one day to write a novel myself (or should I say, finish the one I started years ago). Okay, so it is perhaps not just that I want to WRITE a novel, I want to see it published and to sell too. There is a difference! Anyway, back to the interview on the radio. The woman was saying how she had written about her own experiences of life and mentioned snippets to her friends of her work. They encouraged her and added bits of information to the story - I gathered by this time that the novel was about a young woman who had got married and had children, but was missing her single life. Sounded an interesting and humorous read, something a lot of us can identify with. TIME TO WRITE The interviewer asked the author how she had managed to fit in her writing with her busy schedule, he also asked how long it had taken her to write the novel. Her reply was it had taken around nine months to complete. I did wonder if she had written it while waiting for the birth of a baby, while she hd free time. And did she take the advice always given to writers "write something everyday" and how long did she spend each day? How long does it take to write a novel - the string problem I guess. FIRST NOVEL The writer went on to say that she had always been a bit of a geek when she was at school and had always longed to write a book. This was her first novel and the interviewer kept congratulating her on her success. By this time I was intrigued as it seemed as though here was a woman who was unknown to the publishing world, had no connection with agents and had no relatives who were writers. Goodness, there might be hope for me yet, I thought. As I said earlier, writing is only part of the process, to get published is a lot harder, but she had done it so why couldn't I. UNFINISHED MS Mentally telling myself that when I got home I would once again pick up that unfinished manuscript of my novel, I was inspired. If I finish it and send it off, who knows, I could be a novelist too. The interview was coming to a close. UNKNOWN NOVELIST? Ah! I thought it was too good to be true! An unknown novelist this woman may have been, but as the interview drew to a close it became apparent that she had a career as a journalist. So that is how she managed to get her novel published is it! Usual story! Not what you know, but who you know and as a journalist she would obviously have more "contacts" than the rest of us struggling writers. CONNECTIONS Surely somewhere out there is a person who has written a novel and had it published who has NO connections whatsoever with agents, publishers or other authors? I know writing is a very competitive occupation, but it does annoy me that unless you have "connections" the chances of getting your book published are very slim indeed, Of course anyone can self-publish or pay a vanity publisher, but you then have to persuade retailers to stock your book. Not easy is it? Famous nobodies can get paid fortunes for writing a book, when they have probably never written a thing in their lives. Kids get their stories published because "my grandmother is an author and guided me". More like she had connections with publishers you mean. Husbands publish novels then several years later their wives (or vice versa) decide to "have a go at writing" and lo and behold they are published first time. What an achievement! Load of codswallop more like! Well, I have to confess that I have no relatives who are published authors, no connections with agents and none with publishers (unless of course I can count the standard rejection letters). KEEP SLOGGING I shall have to keep slogging through the pages of the Writers' Handbook, but first of course I have to finish this dratted novel! And at the moment I feel so demoralised about it that I feel like chucking it away! POSITIVE FEEDBACK? But hang on! Maybe I should stop having these negative thoughts. Come on fellow dooyooers, are any of you writers who have had a NOVEL (not features/short stories etc, but a novel!) published, even though you had no connections of contacts in the world of publishing???