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Tiah Beautement

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Not quite everything you need to know about writing, but close

There is a cold hard truth, Short Story Day Africa does not have time to answer every enthusiastic up-and-coming-writer’s questions on how to be a writer and get published. It is not that we don’t love you all. We do. It is not that we haven’t been there. We have. There is a long list of people who I (the elf) will be eternally indebted to, people who took me under their wing and are – to this day – still guiding me along. (Handy tip: Be nice to those people.)

Short Story Day Africa feels for you. Deeply. That is why we keep SSDA going despite the crappy financial returns and the havoc it wrecks on our time. Which is why we’ve put together the following. The advice is fairly general, but there is a South African bias because that is where SSDA headquarters is based.

So here is the great secret to being a writer: Read more. Write more. And what you write, rewrite many, many times. Then rewrite it again.

We, tell this to people all the time. Nobody believes us. So then we quote Stephen King:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.

- Stephen King, On Writing

This, usually, is still not enough to satisfy. So we suggest they then follow sites like BooksLive or the SSDA FB page, both of which provide articles and links on a daily basis on what is happening in the writing world, who are taking submissions and general tips on how to improve writing.

Still people want more. It’s as if there is an elusive magic key and the universe is refusing to share. If anybody finds this key, please let SSDA know. We’d love one. In the meantime, we have links.

Fabulous books on writing:

On Writing, by Stephen King
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Write Away, by Elizabeth George
Negotiating with the Dead, by Margaret Atwood
The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan


Solid articles on editing (even if the article itself requires editing):

Stuff that authors (and editors) need to know, by Helen Moffett
We need more words for edit, by Jo-Anne Richards
On editing, by Tiah Beautement


On Publishing, Marketing, Agents & African book market:

The Art of the Manuscript, an interview with Modjaji Books’ Colleen Higgs
The Literature Magazine / Newspaper Rant by Zukiswa Wanner
Dear Lovely Author (truths about marketing you need to know), by Helen Moffett
Submitting to Agents, by Cat Hellisen
I’m Not An African Writer, Damn You! by Akin Adesokan
Pambazuka with Irene Saunton
Niq Mhlongo On Why His Country Has Become a ‘Double-Speak” Nation
Self-Publishing is not the Minor Leagues by Chuck Wendig
If it sounds too good to be true by Nerine Dorman


Youtube video you must watch if you value writing or books:

Margaret Atwood and The Publishing Pie (aka Cheese sandwiches)
Adaobi Tricia Nwabani on Nigeria’s Reading Culture


Other articles on the world of writing:

For Writers by Jennifer Weiner
Forget those creative writing workshops. If you want to write, get threatened, by Charlie Brooker
The Rocky Road to Paper Heaven, by Margaret Atwood
Trying to Pass: Building a Career in Reading & Writing by Louis Greenberg
The Full-Time Writer by Chuck Wendig
How to write a YA novel in 3 min by SA Partridge
The Guardian ‘How to Write’ Series
ReadSA ‘How to Write’ Series
I Will Not Read Your F@cking Script, by Josh Olson

We hope this helps you achieve your dreams. With that, we wish you all the very best.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    October 7th, 2013 @13:09 #

    Thank you thank you thank you so much for compiling this. I am bookmarking it for the queries that drop daily into my inbox, mostly asking me the whereabouts of the "magic key".

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">tiah</a>
    October 7th, 2013 @13:22 #

    I hope it helps. I found myself cutting and pasting links (mostly from my other blog) into too many emails. It was killing my wrist. (Typing, generally, isn't too bad. It is the formatting where I over extend.) So we thought if it was all in one doc, then we could cut and paste just the once.

    There are, of course, many more articles and helpful links. But google should be a writer's friend. And, too much in one blog is messy. So there we are.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    August 24th, 2014 @12:35 #

    Have been meaning to tag this VERY helpful link here -- geared to the Northern hemisphere market, but applicable here too.


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