Saturday, January 06, 2007

Talented newcomers

Most writers get far too many requests to read the manuscripts of unpublished authors. There just isn't time in most circumstances.
But the other side of this is discovering somebody who really can write and helping them get started--as Max Allan Collins helped me.
There was a time when I put in appearances at writers' groups and spent evenings talking about aspects of professional writing. Over the course of two or three years of this I met four people who went on to publish both short stories and novels in a variety of genres.
To a person they were shy about asking me to read samples of their work. I always said I'd read two chapters of a book or one short story under five thousand words.
My first discovery told me that here was a story that probably wasn't that good, that in fact after he'd finished it, he'd just stuck it in a drawer. That was a year ago or so. I read it that night and soon enough it was not only sold but Roger Zelazny himself was on the phone telling him what a wonderful piece of work it was.
Since then, as I said, I've met three other people who showed me short stories that were sold within a fairly short amount of time.
It's a good feeling when you see their first few pieces in print. You can kind of relive your own first sales through them. Whoever said that you can never equal the joy of your first was right.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Being able to help newcomers is one of the great rewards of being an author, even though it is time-consuming and sometimes discouraging. I'm glad some of those you helped have progressed. You obviously take pride in their success. For me, it was also payback. Long ago, a novelist and screenwriter named John Otis Carney helped me patiently, and as a result I began to sell my work. I'm in debt, and still in debt, and Otis Carney (who wrote many a Dragnet) is a hero of mine, God rest his soul.

Richard Wheeler