TO THE UNPUBLISHED WRITER

I met you this week. It occurred to me that I have met you (or some version of you) many times before.I could have met you at a university, led you in a workshop, chatted to you at a residency OR MAYBE you are the person who comments on my status updates.

Your sentences flow beautifully. Your prose is to be envied at. You write the type of phrases that I wish I could have thought of.

You want to write as well as Adichie. Nay better than Morrison.

You would like to outdo Smith. And wag your disapproving finger at Winterson.

When you are done, Beukes, Bandele, Coetzee and Chinodya will stand and take notice.

Forster, Baingana, Gappah and Wanner will just have to sit down and put their laptops in retirement.

So today as I write this I would like to ask you to please STOP!

Stop revising chapter one over and over again and just finish the manuscript already.

I really should not tell you what to do. of course.

You are just the greatest writer who never published and I, I am an average published writer.

But I am telling you because I would like to read your great book before I die.

So dear greatest writer who never published, please finish that damn first draft!

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26 thoughts on “TO THE UNPUBLISHED WRITER

  1. Best advice ever…I think we dwell too much on reading and re-reading the first chapter other than finishing up the damn draft. Advice taken

  2. After having read the passage above I need to ask as to where then should this writer send their finished work as it has been hard for me Personaly to get any house to assist me in the poetry publication I had to resort to oversees publishers when there are publishers at home, but I have not been successful but at least some body there is reading my work and giving me a thought what must the an unpublished writer like me do to get through to the South Afriocan publisher?

    • Hi Sibusiso, part of the reason that you may be having problems publishing is that some of South Africa’s publishers are bloody language Nazis.In your short posting above, you capitalise and misspell ‘personally’ in the middle of a sentence. You misspell ‘overseas’. Your post is one long rambling sentence. Add, ‘what must the an unpublished writer’ and you are selling yourself short already. My suggestion? Go through your poetry, read it and your cover letter carefully before thinking about any publishers. Then check PASA for a list of publishers who publish poetry. If South African publishers still don’t bite after the suggestions above, there is absolutely no problem with your continuing with the international publisher you have (do you know how many African, Asian and Latin American writers are looking to be published overseas? No idea. Well, a lot). All the best and more ink to your pen.

  3. Hello Zukiswa, this is totally not the place for this, my sincere apologies for misusing this comments section because I don’t know any other way to reach you.

    I’m a wannabe writer and a HUGE groupie of yours (not that you don’t get this all the time). I had the opportunity to linger in your space twice during your recent visit to Uganda (are you still in Uganda btw?). First at the Writivism workshop on 19th Jan (which I attended not as a participant but a volunteer) and then on the 24th at the Residency Reading.

    I enjoyed your sense of wit and was impressed by the fact that you seem so unpretentious for a young woman of your accolades. I also loved the stories (from your upcoming book?) you read out to us on both occasions. I was mostly inspired by the one you read out at the Writivism workshop (the one that starts with a young gay man) to illustrate how one can weave different sub themes in a story (unfortunately I only managed to listen to half of it because I was up and down and I didn’t get the opportunity to listen to the other one).

    I tried to apply the same skill in an assay I blogged a few days ago. When I came across your blog from the Writivism mentorship programme page, I thought I could drop by and spew my guts on your most recent post. But if you ever get a spare minute, Please look at http://balamaga.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/anything-but-weed-part-1/ and let me know if I’m doing it right.

  4. To answer the writer that even if that writting has been done the opportunity to get the poet published becomes a mountain to climb as one finds all doors at the summit closed and can’t get that first crack to be published.

    If you find at your disposal any direction that you may give towards poetry publication houses, please point me to one those assisting in English and other indeginous
    Languages

  5. If I’ll ever end up not publishing a hardcover of my book, Zukiswa, I’d like to say THANK YOU for seeing through where an odinary soul is forbidden. You are such a Chinodya, a Mpe, a Duiker in one. Thanks for the note.

  6. Thanks for the above words, just what I needed. You will one day read me.

    PS: thanks for the amazing work, you make me see Africa in a different way each time I read what you’ve written.

  7. OMG…I don’t know if my work is as great or as mesmerizing as Tony Morrison’s…but I have however written a novella…in two months! I didn’t do creative writing or anything like like. I am actually a grade 1 teacher! I unfortunately got a rejection letter (first rejection letter) so I didn’t send it anywhere again… I just need a published person to read it. All friends think it’s awesome, after all they are my friends!

    • Most writers I know do it full time so would actually charge for services of reading manuscripts in order to produce a reader’s report. I am happy to pass on some names if you think you want to pay for the service Thandokazi but I suspect it may be easier and financially less expensive to just send to make a list of five publishers, send them the manuscript if you think it is good, and then wait to hear back from them. Most will take three months to get back to you and some will send back a reader’s report on what they liked/did not like about the book. All the best.

      • Thanks sisi I feel motivated to send it again. The feedback I got from my first attempt was that it was not speaking to their targeted market or audience. The book is African fiction, so I think I could do with a reader who will give me constructive feedback, I am willing to pay for it. So yah I’lI keep on sending it, thanks again

  8. Pingback: To The Unpublished Writer - The Real G Inc.The Real G Inc.

  9. Thanks For The Encouragement. I Think You Really Came My Way. I Am An Unpublished Writer, Having Finished Manuscripts, But Still Have Challenges In Publishing. Any Suggestion?

  10. I am inspired and felt like someone just kicked me hard in the butt!!! glad i came acrosss this post Zooks.

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