Putting the world into words – Tim Parks and why we write

March 10, 2016 at 6:36 am | Posted in Writing | Leave a comment
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Tim ParksI’ve been fond of English writer Tim Parks since he cheerfully admitted to ABC Radio interviewer Margaret Throsby that he had had ‘enough rejection slips for his novels to paper Buckingham Palace with!’

Parks wrote seven novels over six years before one was accepted for publication. Rejected by twenty publishers, Parks tells us in Where I’m Reading From: The changing world of books (Harvill & Secker, 2014, p. 130) that his seventh novel eventually earned him a £1,000 advance. This anecdote is appealing because it gives hope to writers who are struggling to gain a publisher’s contract.

Yes, there are now alternative ways of getting one’s writing into print. We can be liberated from the gatekeepers in the publishing industry. But some writers still want to be published in the traditional way, not least because of the time it takes to self-publish and to generate enough publicity to prevent one’s work being another drop in the ocean of self-published works, and to get on top of the technology to do all this.

Tim Parks has written seventeen novels and ten non-fiction books plus much translation, and prolific amounts of literary journalism, including Where I’m Reading From.

This book contains over thirty thought-provoking essays. In one, ‘Does Money Make Us Write Better?’ Tim Parks tells us that with an advance like that, clearly he wasn’t writing for the money. He was about to give up after that seventh novel so it wasn’t that he was in it for the pleasure of writing.

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