'The Truth About Writing' by Michael Allen is a handbook for those involved with letters for earning a living. I wish I read 'Truth about Writing' before my first book. The world would have been free of one writer. For the book opens with a loud declaration that 'writing can lead to bitterness and a realization that a writer is someone who is con-genetically abnormal!
The book begins by listing the possible rewards of writing, fame and money, and goes on to describe the freedom to express oneself, that accrues from it. Maintaining however, the unlikelihood of someone actually getting those rewards! The author narrates a bunch of stories from the publishing world where the author earned handsomely, but follows it up with a greater bunch of stories where authors found it difficult to make ends meet. The much acclaimed other benefit of writing is then examined (which I am after!), fame, where he puts it rather bluntly, 'the desire of fame is from ones deep seated sense of inferiority!'
If ambition still exists to become a writer, further chapters of this book offers a blueprint, how a prospective writer can keep his dreams alive. Here, after giving an academic introduction to the workings of the publishing industry, that too with special attention to much of the practical problems a writer may face. If notwithstanding all the advices someone wants to create literary works, the next few chapters offer valuable advice regarding selling ones work. This problem is 'normally glossed over by those who write about writing. They tend to imply that it is simply a matter of putting a typescript into an envelope and sending it off to a publisher or producer, who will open it, read it at once, and weep tears of gratitude that you should have chosen her as the recipient of your wonderful, fabulous, incomparable masterpiece.'
Final chapter of this book contains what every purchaser of a book on writing is looking for: the secret of success. In this case the secret of success is expressed in mathematical terms!
I found this quite an interesting book. It offers good advices to writers, like, while writing a thriller and if in doubt, 'have someone walk in with a gun in hand'. Advices on how to find time to write, how to remain energetic, what diet is good for writers, as well as the importance of setting goals are some of the related issues discussed in this book. The humorous touch of the author is continuously visible in the book. For example he proclaims, 'the degree of success experienced by a writer will vary according to circumstances and the definition of circumstance is everything that the writer cannot control, or even influence.' Or 'most publishers can recognize a bestseller, but only when it was published two years earlier and they have the sales figures in front of them.'
A good book indeed.