6. Rip it up and start again…

I WONDER if the 1980’s pop group Orange Juice sent their songs off to a seasoned recording artist for feedback before writing their hit single “Rip It Up and Start Again”. More to the point, I wonder if the song’s writer was a budding novelist who opted to give up the whole infuriating business and form a band instead.

Having submitted my work for scrutiny by published author Richard Blandford and handed over the hard-earned £600 fee, I sat back and waited for his gushing plaudits to arrive. I was expecting something along the lines of “Wow, better than I could have written, it’s going to send me right back to the drawing board” or “Can I have your autograph please because there is no doubt you are the next best thing to authorship”. I even half expected a response along the lines of “I’ve shown this to my agent, expect a phone call over the next few days”.

Unfortunately the reality was somewhat different. To be honest, I probably should have read the small print from the Writers Workshop people much more carefully. “An in-depth critique from one of our experienced and successfully published editors will be tough, but constructive. It will identify what is working, what isn’t and give practical advice on how to improve it.” Mind you, when they said tough and constructive, they didn’t tell me it would be a hatchet job of which the last of the Mohicans might have been proud.

Damn, who was this bloke swanning around his home in Brighton, pouring coffee from his Espresso machine and perusing the art pages of The Guardian while I spend every day of my life hunched over a computer, writing and editing. Of course my book is different… isn’t that the way it is supposed to be!

My first reaction was one of pure resentment. I mean, at least give me something to grasp onto, some grain of hope to keep me on track. You can download Richard’s critique in full below…

Sex and Rucks critique

Once my wife brought me down off the ceiling and talked me out of posting a similar hatchet job review of Richard’s Hound Dog novel on Amazon, I looked at the criticism more closely and one thing stood out clearly… there was no genre.

I seemed to be trying to be all things to all people and though I felt this was the unique part of the whole novel, I had to accept that it might be a hard sell under such circumstances.

It was time to start stripping it down and rebuilding it as something else without, hopefully, losing too many of the aspects of my story which I liked.


  • WORK: About eight months.
  • BOOK STAGE: First draft.
  • HEADACHES: Lots.
  • COST SO FAR: Approx. £640.
  • NEXT MOVE: Start all over again…

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