Aunty Debbie Returns ...

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? So you all thought Aunty Debbie’s helpful problem page had ceased trading since the last post? Well, no such luck – I’m still here and still dispensing wisdom like oil of cloves on a rotting tooth. And probably about as useful …

I bet you think I make all this rubbish up, don’t you? And I do. Sort of. But every ‘question’ I’ve answered in this little series has been based on fact – a snippet I’ve read online, or heard people discussing. Yes, I have on occasion embellished reality in order to make a point (hey, I am a writer; it's what we do), but the basis is all real. There really are people – authors and readers – out there who genuinely believe this stuff. And it’s my mission to put them straight!

Dear Aunty Debbie: I’ve just read this fantastic book on my kindle. Would you like to read it too? I can email it to you with another one I bought last week. In fact, I bought a USB stick from some bloke on the internet – it was only a tenner and he promised me it had at least a hundred free books on it and some of them haven’t even been published yet! How cool is that? A Canny Reader.

Dear Canny Reader: Not cool at all. In fact, you should be burning hot with embarrassment. What you think of as free stuff is actually piracy, theft, fraud – however you want to dress it up. Do you not think the authors of those books deserve to get paid for their work? I bet you were one of those people who bought cassette tapes from the dodgy man with the suitcase on the corner of the street, then got them home and wondered why the writing/images on the cardboard sleeve were blurry. Because they were ripped off from the genuine article. Digital technology makes it easy to share stuff at the same quality – but just because you can does not mean you should. Aunty Debbie says buy your goods from a reputable supplier, or direct from the creator.

Dear Aunty Debbie: I’ve always wanted to write a novel. What should I do? Can you tell me how to write, what to write and send me details of publishers. A Lazy Writer.

Dear Lazy Writer: I have enough work to do of my own – why do you think I should do yours too? If you want to write, then write. No excuses, just do it. Having time, space, a computer etc all help, but it’s completely possible to write on the bus with a notebook and pencil if that’s all you have. And write what fires you – if you’re not passionate about your subject, your reader will be bored too. As for details of publishers: if you have to ask, then you are not ready to submit stuff to anybody. Part of the apprenticeship these days is finding your way, working out how the business operates, who are the sharks and the cowboys. In the era of the internet and social media, there is really no excuse any more for ignorance. Aunty Debbie says just get on with it!

Dear Aunty Debbie: I’ve written a book and it’s 300,000 words long. It’s my true life story and it needs to be published as the world needs to know about it. My best friend says I need to make it shorter but I can’t because it all really happened. An Autobiographer.

Dear Autobiographer: Well first off, congratulations for sticking with it. That’s a lot of words. Now here’s the hard part – your life is very interesting to you, but will probably bore the pants off everybody else. Take a look in the book shops and you’ll see that all the (auto)biographies are about or by people who have a genuine story to tell. Maybe they are famous – a sportsperson, an actor or singer. Or maybe they have survived torture, abuse or other tragedy or disaster. Perhaps they have a unique perception of a common job, an undercover account of reality versus the public face. Does your story match any of that? If not, then you have a few options – you can keep it as it is and leave your life-story to your family for posterity. Or you could cut it down and spice it up a bit and publish/sell it as fiction. It all depends on what your aim is. Aunty Debbie would go for the latter, but then she loves a bit of spice …

If anybody has any questions for Aunty Debbie to answer in future columns, please send them with a crisp fiver to any address you can find for me. Aunty Debbie accepts no responsibility for any of the advice provided. You're on your own, guys ...


Jan Needle said…
Dear 'Aunty' 'Debbie' how can I take you seriously as a writer/tutor if you spell auntie with a why and Debby with an eye and an ee? Y do you do it? R U a Charlietan (or a Charlytan, or perhaps a mere Charlee?) (Which raises the perennial [check sp] problem/question about tuting, or tooting (wha'eva) and whether one who is tooted is a tutee or merely a mug who is easily parted from his, her or its money, moolah, dosh, spondulicks cont ad infinitummy? Quite frankly, I blame Doris Bohnson.
(I'm going back to bed now. The country air's doin me ed in.)
Debbie Bennett said…
I blame my parents ... :-)
Bill Kirton said…
Dear Anti Deby,
I am a struglin riter what only wants to give pepul a laff but I'm flumuxed by a kunudrumummn at the momint, naimlee why does sumbdy in a pub askin a mate wot he wants to drink say 'Wobbe gwain ev?' in Plymuff and 'Fitchy win'in?' in Aberdeen?
And a mery krismus.
Sandra Horn said…
Dear Aunty Debbie,
I don't understand why you think my life story would bore the pants off people (which is rude, by the way). I have added many humorous anecdotes in between the exciting bits - how my foot got caught in the mud when I was out walking and I got it out but left my welly behind, so had to hop back to my car (a beige Ford Fiesta). That's an exciting bit, by the way, not a humorous anecdote. Are you SURE you meant what you said? Please think long and hard before you reply.

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