Tag Archives: J.K. Rowling

Luck & the Writer

Some of you may have seen author and blogger J.A. Konrath’s recent blog post about self-publishing called Your Marketing Plan Won’t Work.


It caught my eye, as in 2019 I’ve forsaken writing the sixth story in my Cornish Detective series in favour of marketing the first five titles—there’s not much point in baking another cake when the rest are going stale on the shelves!

I like Konrath’s grumpy, unfiltered and confrontational style of commenting on the publishing industry, and recognised much of what he says in his assessment of what worked to sell his own books. He sums up by saying:


My career has been all over the place, and I’ve tried so many new and different things. I’ve learned from my many failures, and if I had to do it all over, I’d tell my younger self:

“One brand, one genre, stop experimenting, stop being a perfectionist, and just write five good books a year in the same series. Make sure they are professionally edited and formatted, have great covers and descriptions, keep length under 75k words, and make sure they have updated, clickable bibliographies in the back matter, pre-order pages for the next release, and newsletter sign-up forms.”

That’s it. That’s the sum total of my years of knowledge and experience.

[read the comments below the article]

Broadly, he agrees with the oft-quoted William Goldman:

Image result for “Nobody knows anything...... Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.”

(from Adventures in the Screen Trade)

Like Konrath and crime writer James Oswald my self-marketing is relying on blogging and having a website devoted to my crime series, with a view to building a mailing list of potential readers to send a newsletter to; my social media presence will be minimal. I intend to follow Oswald’s tactic of making the first book free, self-publishing the sequel at the same time at an attractive price—hoping to get the ball rolling.

Who knows if it will work?

As Konrath says:

It still comes down to luck.

Stop worrying. This is all out of your control.

Stop trying to find the answer. There is no answer. No answer, no logic, no reason, not even any scientific cause and effect.

It’s all luck.

I’ve long had a stoical approach to life, which has come in useful over the last six years since I returned to creative writing. Editing and querying require infinite levels of perseverance.

As for luck, I don’t know, for it’s an elusive sprite that lands on some people while avoiding my own arm!

I’ll keep on keeping on, even though I miss writing, for I reckon that building an author platform online will be more of a help than a hindrance. As champion golfer, Gary Player is reputed to have said: The harder I practice, the luckier I get.

How much do you think that luck counts in your writing career?


Neurotic Writing

A while ago, I posted on Turning Suffering Into Writing, but everyday neuroticism is a tool authors can use to good effect. Try to think of a writer or any creative artist who stimulates you, that sees things in what would be deemed a conventional way. It’s often a skewed viewpoint that captivates.

Neurosis is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as:

‘A mental illness resulting in high levels of anxiety, unreasonable fears and behaviour and, often, a need to repeat actions for no reason’

It’s easy to see how such symptoms afflict writers. After all, much of what we do is speculative, flights of fancy that our family and friends may view as delusional.

‘The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis, and we’d have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.’

William Styron

Styron’s Darkness Visible: A Memoir Of Madness is a moving chronicle of his own descent into depression and his triumphant recovery.

While writing a story, then editing it and creating a synopsis, followed by querying agents with a view to selling, it’s likely that an author will ask themselves many times, “Why am I doing this?”

If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell. I’ll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.” 
Sylvia Plath, from The Bell Jar.

I’ve often contemplated my manuscripts, after reading them in as detached a way as possible, wondering if my theme worked, does the story arc ring true within this story and across the series and what would a reader take away from the story?

That way madness lies! Trying to guess what readers will notice is a form of fortune-telling. My beta-readers pointed out things to me which they liked, that I hadn’t considered.

Telling someone that you’re a writer produces mixed reactions, I think. Some people will admire you, while others will be intimidated. You may be thought of as wealthy, in a J.K. Rowling way, or as a total loser who can’t write well, as you’re not a household name. Most people will give you leeway to be just a bit weird!

Research has shown, that highly creative people are often neurotic:


To throw a reinterpretation on Robert A. Heinlein’s book title Stranger In A Strange Land, authors are among the strangest folk in society, telling tales to entertain, inform and which reveal truths.

Have you embraced your neuroticism?

Jerome Lawrence

Envy & the Writer

Booklife.com has an interesting article on how writers become envious of the success of other authors:

What Writers Need to Know About Envy

With some writers, I experience not envy, more a feeling of admiration for the strength of their writing. Authors such as James Lee Burke, Dennis Lehane and Barbara Kingsolver compose sentences and paragraphs that have me immediately re-reading them.

If any envy does creep in, it’s for the fact that they’re not constrained in the way that I feel limited by the hoops I have to jump through as an unknown author—irksome things, such as the 80,000 word limit for crime novels, and starting my story with a sensationalistic event that grabs the attention of some dozy editorial assistant trawling through the slush pile.

I tend to suffer more from bewilderment than envy, mystified at how a weak and flawed novel got published. I recently finished a highly-praised crime novel, which came with fifteen endorsements on its cover and opening pages, from other authors and critics. They said things like ‘I had to sleep with the lights on after reading it’, ‘truly terrifying’ and ‘an eerie, spine-tingling read’. Maybe I’m desensitized by writing my own crime stories, but I felt mildly scared just four times in reading it.

To add to my confusion, the novel had several editing mistakes, including ‘baited breath’ when they meant ‘bated breath’. Considering the amount of time that I spend repeatedly going over my manuscript, weeding out punctuation and spelling errors, I’m amazed that so-called professionals let such things slip.

Who would want to be as successful as J. K Rowling? The first author to become a billionaire from her work, she’s given away so much money that her wealth dropped to half-a-billion—but gosh darn it, has recently risen to roughly one billion!

All well and good, you might think, but she has to employ bodyguards to prevent kidnapping and terrorist attacks. Imagine what an attractive target she is for a demented ISIS suicide bomber, as an author who writes about witchcraft.

There’s such a thing as being too successful!

Do any of you suffer from writer envy, or are you like me, merely baffled at how some books get published, when you can’t get any attention for your brilliant manuscript?

Things I wish I’d known before starting to write.

I returned to creative writing in 2013. The last few years have been joyful, as a direct result of producing short stories, novellas, novels, poetry and song lyrics.

All the same, there are a few things that I wish I’d known before I put fingers to keyboard.

1) No one wants to read my writing. Steven Pressfield crudely summed this up as No one wants to read your shit! 


Image result for Steven Pressfield

I smile wryly when I think back to my naive optimism in uploading a dozen short stories and novellas to Smashwords, hoping to make a little money in time for Christmas, 2013.

Whatever the worth of my stories, it wasn’t financial, and they disappeared like snowflakes in a blizzard of other writers doing the same thing.

I quickly learned, that half of the battle to get anywhere as a writer was gaining attention through self-promotion. Nobody knows who I am, so why should they want to read my work? Writers are part of a branding process these days. Reclusive authors are virtually extinct. It sometimes feels to me, that reading novels is a form of nosiness for some people. They want to find out more about the author through their work.

In this way, the book world has become more like the music industry and Hollywood.

2) Writing a book is actually the easiest part of the whole process. I love the planning, background research, specific fact checking and seeing a new story take shape.

For me, editing is quite the most tedious task I’ve ever done, confirming what Garcia Gabriel Marquez observed: 

Image result for Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry….With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood.

I had no idea how time-consuming and soul-destroying it would be.

Querying is like crawling on broken glass to the tradesman’s entrance of a fortified castle full of carousing gatekeepers, the literary agents who know what’s what…and they sure as hell don’t want to know me!

That leaves selling the book, the self-promotion, the flogging of my precious story as a commercial product—see point 1).

Learning that publishing, more than anything, is a BUSINESS was tough. It’s not an arena for gently showing off how clever I am as an author, it’s more becoming the manufacturer of a commercial product. My book may as well be a new flavour of baked beans.

3) What sells best isn’t necessarily the finest writing by the most talented authors. We’re advised by writing gurus to labour carefully to produce a brilliant manuscript, an intriguing story that’s correctly punctuated and free of flab. I take a lot of care in creating my novels, devoting thousands of hours to each title.

It’s galling to realise that someone who’s already got a public persona (and piles of cash) can throw a story together and instantly get a publishing contract. Invisible ghostwriters will knock things straight. Had some nitwit celebrity submitted my novel it would have been published to acclaim.

Readers buy books by people they already know. They also buy stories that are so basically worded, that the language wouldn’t trouble a 10-year-old child. Bestsellers are often not highfalutin literature. Instead, simple yarns sell in their millions.

It makes me question why I’m trying to produce high-quality crime novels, when, if I want to make money, I should simply scribble off a piece of crudity that appeals to mouth-breathing, knuckle-draggers who move their lips while reading to themselves.

Dumbing down has won. That’s something that I didn’t fully comprehend before entering a new era as a writer.

4) Competition writing is an art. Another thing that I wish I’d known, in my early stages of creative writing, is a greater awareness of the rules of writing competitions.

In a burst of enthusiasm and naïvety, I uploaded 44 titles to Smashwords and Amazon in a short period of time. This was the best of my work, including short stories and poetry. Self-publishing in this way, making an ebook available for sale, means that it disqualifies the work from eligibility for most writing competitions.

A few competitions allow entry by stories that have previously appeared online, but not many.

In retrospect, I wish that I’d held onto them, and tried my luck by submitting to competitions. Even if I hadn’t won, being short or long-listed is a better way of raising a writer’s profile, not just to readers but literary agents who keep an eye open for potential talent.

Wise words from the first writer to become a billionaire from her work:

JK Rowling reveals what she wishes she’d been told when she was writing Harry Potter

What do you wish you’d known before starting out?

Image result for baby writer typing

Jumping through Hoops

I’ve written and edited five novels since 2014. If writing a story is like wandering a world I’ve created, with beautiful scenery and fascinating characters, then editing resembles staggering through an endless swamp in thick fog, wearing lead boots; the only sign of life is the croaking of frogs—and they’re not saying nice things! 

Apart from chasing down repetitions, clumsy sentences and punctuation errors, I use lists like Diana Urban’s 43 Words You Should Cut From Your Writing Immediatelyas well as a list I’ve made of words and expressions I tend to use too much.

I firmly believe that this odious task improves the readability of my manuscript, yet, despite this, I wonder who I’m doing the editing for….Tidying my writing may impress a literary agent or publisher’s editor, though they’ll still find things to correct. As for any reader who may be drawn to my stories, I’m not sure that they’d notice the improvements. 

Image result for cartoons about writers

The reason that I say this, is that the most frightfully written rubbish becomes a best-selling book. Also, while editing, I’ve read crime novels by three of my favourite authors, and they most definitely didn’t do any of the nit-picking I’m bogged down with at the moment. I admire Harlan Coben and Jeffery Deaver for the readability of their stories, but neither uses language beyond the vocabulary of a ten-year-old. John Connolly is more literary in style, but my jaw dropped when I read a short paragraph of five sentences, which contained the word ‘had’ nine times!

‘Had’ is one of the words I hunt down, so it made me question who edits his manuscripts, and how he gets away with such gawkiness. The answer is, of course, that he’s a successful author with a long track record. You only have to look at the monumental length of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, which started off at the conventional word count of 80,000, but escalated to 257,000 once she’d achieved mega-sales. You don’t tell the goose that’s laying golden eggs what to do! 

Editing manuscripts feels like an initiation rite, a compulsory test that I have to do, to please gatekeepers whose judgement has little to do with what a reader likes. I’m a grumpy lion, who’s never been good at jumping through hoops, but do any of you feel the same way?

Image result for grumpy lion gif

A Catalogue of Promiscuous Praise: Dubious Blurbs

Malcolm Gladwell is under fire for his over-generous praise of friends’ and lovers’ books.


I’ve read a few of his books, enjoying them, though I’m not sure how influenced I’d be if I saw his name on blurb praising an author unknown to me. Then again, if I saw a mystery-murder novel lauded by one of my literary heroes, such as James Lee Burke or Michael Connelly, I might give it a try.

Many of the practices in publishing are a racket, but then so is much of any business—dressing up lies to be acceptable. Having once witnessed a famous law lord, journalist and writer bullied by a publishing executive into scribbling a blurb for a book that he’d never heard of, let alone read, I have a jaundiced view of the truthfulness of the words of praise one sees on book covers.

Imagine the effect it would have on sales of your YA or mystery novel if J.K. Rowling endorsed your writing! I somehow doubt that I’ve got enough money to bribe her…

Image result for book blurb someecards

Bloated Writing

As writers, one of the most commonly given pieces of advice is to cut excess detail, pruning the flowery passages that looked so good when we wrote them in a euphoric burst of inspiration, our fingers a blur on the keyboard. Less is More is the mantra.

Elmore Leonard cryptically claimed: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it”

Much as I love his books, his style is as bare and parched as a sun-bleached horse skull. Colette was equally blunt, but offered more of a clue about what’s needed to avoid bloat.

My first Cornish Detective novel, The Perfect Murderer, was written before I learnt about recommended word limits. I may have been swayed by reading two very long novels at the time, Donna Tartt’s Secret History (193,000 words) and Neal Stephenson’s Reamde (322,080 words).

I queried agents with that story, eventually cottoning on to what was the main problem with my manuscript when one commented that although he loved the premise and my writing, it was simply too long. I edited it down by 40,000 words to 139,000. I may return to hack away more, though I can’t see how without a major rewrite, as it’s such a complex plot. Also, my two readers, merciless critics both, not given to pulling punches, didn’t notice the length. This had me thinking that just as a well-proportioned athlete isn’t considered obese, even if they’re heavy, then a well-paced story disguises its length.

J. K. Rowling’s latest Cormoran Strike crime novel Lethal White has been criticised for being bloated. She does have form. It’s worth remembering that, while her first Harry Potter novel came in close to the recommended word count of 80,000 for a debut by an unknown author. Her second story was a bit longer, but then she embraced loggorrhoea in a ‘too much ain’t enough’ way!

1) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s/ Sorcerer’s Stone76,944 words.

2) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: 85,141 words.

3) Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban107,253 words.

4) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire190,637 words.

5) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix257,045 words.

6) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince168,923 words.

7) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows198,227 words.

The thing is, you don’t criticise the goose that’s laying the golden eggs—do you?

I was living in America when Harry Potter became a publishing phenomenon, and I read the first three novels to my then wife. We got one-third of the way through Goblet of Fire before giving up, as it was flabby and self-indulgent, disappearing up its own backside!

J. K Rowling isn’t the first author to take flak for verbosity. J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye was widely panned when published, with critics saying, among other things, that it was too long and monotonous. When confronted with the six volumes of Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the Duke of Cumberland remarked to the author: “Another damned, thick square book…always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr Gibbon?” 

As Ambrose Bierce observed: “The covers of this book are too far apart.”

Having said that, these days, thanks partly to the success of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice, adapted into the epic Game of Thrones, there’s been a whole slew of mega-novels in the Fantasy genre.

While this might work in Fantasy, as well as Science Fiction and Historical novels, I can’t help thinking that for other genres, it’s got to be a case of diminishing returns for an author to spend years writing extremely long stories.

In the winter of 2018, I completed my fifth Cornish Detective novel, which comes in at 90,000 words—10,000 more than the previous three—but I’m OK with that, as it signifies a sea change in my protagonist’s character. The plot included two new elements with my hero falling in love and lust, only to be in a fight to the death two days later, which sees him and his opponent on life support at the end of the book. I’m hoping that by the time my faithful readers (?) have read the story arc of my detective, that they’ll not mind a slightly longer tale. After all, previously published crime writers, such as Jussi Adler Olsson, James Lee Burke, John Connolly, Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly write series that are as much portraits of their characters and their family lives, as they are about the investigation they’re running. Readers read on because they’ve bonded with the protagonist, their relatives and their cohorts.

Have you read any stories that you thought needed pruning?

How do you tackle bloat in your own writing?

Resilience & the Writer

As I neared the end of writing my fifth Cornish Detective novel last year, I had a rather sardonic thought—that I’m about where I thought I’d be five years after returning to creative writing in 2013. What prompted this bit of reflection was literally a reflection, for the screen of my laptop monetarily darkened, turning it into a mirror, so I had one of those ‘Aargh’ moments when you catch sight of your ageing self going about your business! Here was I, researching a fact about forensic medicine, for a crime novel that had taken me nine months to gestate—that may never be read by any fan of the genre.

It made me wonder how determined or maybe delusional an unknown author, in particular, has to be to keep their nose to the grindstone. Doing writing because you love it is great motivation: anyone who chooses becoming an author as the road to riches, in a J. K. Rowling way, is going to find it’s a rocky track with deep ditches either side.

All of this musing reminded me of something that noted writing guru Noah Lukeman has said several times in his books—that realistically, a new author should plan on it taking several years to get anywhere with their stories—to adopt a mindset that it’s going to be long haul. In answer to a question from a newbie author on how to query a literary agent when you have no proof of your writing ability, Lukeman advises:

You can attain major credentials on your own, but first you must prepare for a sustained effort. Instead of a three or six month plan to attain all the credentials you need, why not give yourself a three or six year plan? With that kind of time, you can attend writing programs, workshops, conferences, colonies; spend extensive time networking and build an endorsement list; get stories published in magazines and online; begin to build a platform; and most importantly, hone your craft extensively. This doesn’t mean you need to refrain from approaching agents before you accomplish all of this; on the contrary, as I said, there is nothing wrong with approaching agents with no credentials whatsoever, and you can work to achieve all of this concurrently with your approaching the industry. But you should always be working to this end, regardless. There are many specific, concrete steps you can take to help get you there (which I explain at length in my book How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent), but perhaps the most important step of all is your willingness to devote a sustained, multi-year effort to building your bio on your own.

(From Ask A Literary Agent (Year One)…a free pdf download.)

Image result for noah lukeman literary agent

Despite this salutary advice, I still harboured the hope that I could earn a few quid from self-publishing my early writing as e-books on Smashwords and Amazon. I was right—I made a small amount—about $40!

After foolishly querying about 350 agents with my first Cornish Detective novel, that was an unfeasibly long 179,000 words, I edited it down by 40,000 words. I also wrote a new opening story at the acceptable length of 80,000 words. I queried another 100 literary agents and publishers with open submission windows, getting more favourable responses and learning how to target specific agents, stalking them on social media to find their likes and dislikes. One large agency, that handles writers, musicians, television programme-makers and actors, asked me if my first novel was part of a series—as it would be easier to pitch to a publisher or television production company.

That had always been my intention anyway, to write a series of crime novels, with a view to them being adapted into a television drama, along the lines of Inspector Wycliffewhich is also set in Cornwall, though it pre-dates the computer age, making it rather creaky.

This sounds ambitious of me, but why not aim for the stars? As Michelangelo said:

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

Accordingly, I’ve now built a solid body of work, but in all honesty, how can I know whether it will appeal to anyone? Writing is full of uncertainty: no one knows what will work until it does!

Image result for william goldman quote nobody knows anything

William Goldman

Pride is an emotion I don’t exactly trust, as I’m more stoical in my approach to life, but I am proud of my Cornish Detective stories—and also of my bloody-minded determination to get them written—sacrificing most of what normal people consider essential, such as a social life and a love life. It’s helpful that I’m a reclusive old geezer!

The writing has been joyful to me, but what I’m not looking forward to is returning to the self-promotion trail. Navigating the world of publishing is like stumbling through thick fog with only a candle for illumination, banging the instruments of my one-man-band hoping to attract attention. That’s the feeling I get whether I’m chasing a traditional publishing contract or if I go back to self-publishing. No one else much cares what I’ve created—a hard fact of life every author should quickly realise—so it’s up to me to big myself up.

I’ve sometimes thought, that the best preparation for becoming a writer is to get everyone that you know to say “No” to you, when you ask them something, as it’s a word you’ll be hearing a lot when it comes to trying to sell your book. At least 500 times would be good preparation for growing a hide as thick as a rhinoceros!

How long have you been writing?

How thick is your hide?

Does being an oft-refused author help you cope with rejection is other parts of your life?

Do friends and family admire your determination—or think you’re just a bit mad?!

The Problem with Unreliable Narrators

There are trends in storytelling, which spawn imitations. J.K. Rowling’s success with wizards led to a rash of similar books. Fifty Shades of Grey lubricated the thrust of mummy porn. More recently, there have been a host of novels with unreliable narrators, the best-known being The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.

Unreliable narrators have been around for ages, in such classics as Lolita, Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby and The Catcher In The Rye. What goes around comes around, but I’ve found the recent novels told through the POV of a severely compromised narrator to be poorly written. This hasn’t stopped them selling in their millions, with film adaptations.

I had to force myself through The Girl on the Train, just to see what happened in the end. It’s not just me being grumpy, as others have criticised Paula Hawkins’ abilities.

Image result for novel the girl on the train

She’s got a new novel out, Into The Water, which I haven’t seen a good review of yet. Critics’ unfavourable opinions won’t stop it becoming a bestseller, that also gets adapted into a Hollywood film. It’s galling to realise that novels which become popular only do so because readers are intrigued by the concept, not caring about the skill of the writing and that they buy a book because all of their friends have—it’s a social phenomenon—never mind the quality, feel the width.

For me, the main problem with Paula Hawkins’ and Gillian Flynn’s unreliable narrators was that I didn’t care what happened to them, or to the characters they interacted with, as most of them were weak, irritating and nasty too. Overall, I finished these bestsellers feeling depressed for the human condition.

I’ve written using an unreliable narrator in just one of my novels, so far. The Perfect Murderer was told from a multiple POV, including the detective protagonist, his team, a pathologist and the suspects they were hunting. One was a serial killer, whose bizarre slayings aroused the bloodlust of an unsuspected career murderer, a retired chief of detectives who’d murdered a harden criminal every year for forty years. He was a member of the establishment, and the hardline views he expressed about crime didn’t suggest that he’d been taking things into his own hands. I differentiated between his thoughts and those of the serial killer by calling the latter the killer’ and the old copper the murderer’.

I thought this device was obvious and guessable, so was pleased when my three readers were shocked at the twist in the tale. The copper’s ramblings and his homicidal campaign of retribution were caused by a brain tumour, which he escaped by committing suicide before he was arrested. Although he was a difficult man to like, and severely flawed, I managed to make him sympathetic.

How do you handle unreliable narrators?

Image result for charles palliser quote unreliable narrator

Charles Palliser

If Wishes Were Horses

‘If Wishes Were Horses’ tends to float alone as a phrase these days, to describe something that we wish were true, though it derives from a 17th-century Scottish proverb-nursery rhyme:

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
If turnips were watches, I’d wear one by my side.
If “if’s” and “and’s” were pots and pans,
There’d be no work for tinkers’ hands.
As unknown authors, seeking representation or wondering how to proceed with self-publishing, it’s nice to daydream about what form any success we may have would look like.
Personally, if my Cornish Detective novels ever take off, I definitely wouldn’t want them to reach the stratospheric heights of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, or even of any other phenomenally successful author who really can’t write very well…insert your own detested bestseller here. After all, who wants to be so successful that you become a target for kidnappers, terrorists and extortionists?
I’d be happy for my books to sell in quantities that allow me to live a comfortable low-key lifestyle, while writing more in the series, as well as publishing other forms—short stories, novellas, poetry and song lyrics—all of which I’ve written.
I’ve always had my eye on my stories being turned into a television series, and though I know I’d have little to no control over the finished product, that’s the best route to popularisation and steady earnings. Were my novels sold to an American film studio or television company, then I’m sure I’d be able to grit my teeth tight enough to tolerate their inevitable alterations to my characters. I’d hope that they keep the seaside and wilderness of my Cornish location, probably in Maine or Washington state.
Favourable reviews and the respect of my peers would be good too. It’d be great to meet some of my crime writing heroes, people like John Connolly, Michael Connelly, Lawrence Block, Andrea Camilleri and James Lee Burke.
I’d like to please the friends who’ve encouraged my writing, by being successfulNote that I’m listing the pleasant aspects of success, not the irksome obligations, such as interviews, book signings, festival appearances (might be OK) and any hoopla that I need to indulge in via social media to make me irresistible! 
As I wander with as much insouciance as I can muster through the final stage of living, it would be great to have the feelings that appear in this poem by Sir John Betjeman:
The Last Laugh
I made hay while the sun shone. 
My work sold. 
Now, if the harvest is over 
And the world cold, 
Give me the bonus of laughter 
As I lose hold.
If wishes were horses, how would your writing endeavours pan out?
Do you want to be adored?
Could you stand being despised, but wildly successful in terms of earnings?
Would your book make a decent television series or a movie?
How do you feel about being a public face, a household name, instantly recognisable and trotted out to give opinions on things that aren’t even to do with writing?
What about the reactions of your family and friends?