Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Is it any good?

How do you know if what you have created is any good?

Two ways, in my opinion; your own gut feeling, and the reactions of others. Both unreliable.

Van Gogh, obsessively painting nearly one canvas a day, must have felt an inner conviction of his own talent. During his life, he only sold one picture. Within a year of his death, his brother's widow had begun selling his work. Today his paintings sell for millions.

Then there's Sir Walter Scott. Any of you read his books? I thought not. * They're unreadable. In his day he was hugely successful, the first international author.

Sometimes I think my writing's good, at other times wonder whether it's not total rubbish. And as for the reactions of others... My short story, Comforted by Darkness was described as 'mesmerising' (I like that reviewer a lot) while another dismissed it as 'a readable romance for a weekly magazine'.

All you can do is peg away and see what happens (provided, of course, it happens in your lifetime).

* Okay, Alan, you're the erudite exception that proves the rule.


  1. I think the lesson here is The Public Don't Know What's Good for Them.

    Doesn't help much, but there you go.

    I kinda like Ivanhoe. No car chases and lacking in gratuitous sex, but other than that is has its moments.

    But if I had to choose between reading Scott and sitting in front of a Van Gogh painting for about a week, I'm at the museum in a flash.

  2. I have faith in public taste, but sometimes it takes a hundred years or so for it to emerge.

    I have now altered the post to accommodate the fact that one of my readers has read 'Ivanhoe'.

    Maybe I should give Scott another chance...