*As part of his blog tour to celebrate the release of his brilliant debut novel The Detainee, author Peter Liney has written an exclusive guest article for J For Jetpack all about pursuing a career as a writer and needing a thick hide to do so*
A lot of people ask me how long I’ve been writing and I always give the same answer: ‘Forever’. And it’s pretty well true. There was the briefest of periods when my formalised education finished when I thought, ‘And that’s enough of that, thank you – bring on the dancing tequila girls.’ But it wasn’t long before I found myself writing again, and to this day, I’m pretty well convinced I had no real choice in the matter.
I wouldn’t exactly describe it as a moment of inspiration, but I can remember the first time anyone noticed I had any writing ability. I was about twelve or so and wrote this composition about a freakishly hot summer’s day, a dinosaur frozen in an underground pocket of ice beneath the B533-whatever, and the village bus . . . Need I say more? For sure the peace of the countryside was shattered that day; not to mention the biggest pothole you’ve ever seen. I remember my old English teacher, Mr Rumbold, reading it out to the class. Yes, I flushed a little, I worried it would mean a beating after school from the less literary-minded, but I still had this slight stirring of destiny. Well, until Mr Rumbold gave his final summing up: ‘Liney, this is a load of rubbish . . . but very well written.’ Not big on compliments was Mr Rumbold.
Mind you, I’ve heard worse. I remember an old script reader at the BBC (who shall remain nameless), who took great pride in writing a rejection letter that ended: ‘Surely there are easier ways for you not to make a living?’ Ooh, I bet he loved that. I bet he’d taken years to think that one up and now shoved it out several times a week. At least it was different. Quite funny in its own way. A lot better than ‘We have read your story with great interest, however . . .’ – again, I think you can fill in the rest.
The thing is, everyone talks about ‘to be a writer you need . . .’ listing all the usual things: talent, hard work, dedication, discipline, etc. Very few people mention you need a skin thicker than a rhino with elephantitis; the ability to withstand all manner of criticism every day for possibly the rest of your life. Just think of it as boxing someone who’s super-fit, who keeps hitting you over and over. Your job is to stay on your feet, no matter how many times he (or she) hits you, because all you want is that one grand glorious knockout blow.
To my immense pleasure, and unquestionably punch-drunk as I maybe, I’ve finally scored that knockout blow with THE DETAINEE. What a pity Mr Rumbold isn’t still around to offer his opinion.
Peter Liney’s The Detainee is published by Jo Fletcher Books. It’s a fantastic novel that tells of a scarily believable near future. We at JFJ love it so check back later this week for our review!
For more from Peter, The Detainee blog-tour continues at the following sites…
July 10th – Speculative Assessments
July 11th – GavReads
July 12th – Ranting Dragon