Friday, 24 July 2015

Have you ever walked on broken glass or trodden on hot coals, because I feel that's what I'm doing right now. A couple of weeks ago in another forum, a writer picked up on a comment I made over four months ago and then lambasted me with all sorts of unpleasantness and insults.
Should he see this topic, he might want to bring his sarcasm and innuendoes to this forum.

The reason for this guy's unpleasantness is because he refuses to accept that I not only go it alone in publishing my book, but because I go it alone from the first word right through to publication. Just duck your head in case there is still flak flying around, while I whisper a confession – I edit my own work, and despite the five star reviews my work receives, this guy is not alone in saying it can't be done.

So why do I do it?

I paid a small fortune to have my first book edited and proofread, but when I made changes as suggested by a professional editor, I felt I had lost something. Not in the writing, for the words on the paper were still my words and my voice told the story, but something deep-rooted and personal had been taken away.

I had my first stroke at 30, my second at 42, and both ripped furrows into my brain. The second brought an end to my working life. To fill my time, I studied art at the local college. In order to demonstrate a technique, the tutor took my brush and adjusted the picture on my canvas. This was his way. He would move from student to student, take up the brush or pencil and twiddle with the image, but for me, the painting had become distant, remote and no longer mine. I can only attribute this overwhelming sense of loss to the brain damage caused by the strokes.

It took me a while before I discovered what was missing from my first, professionally edited novel. I had lost the much-needed sense of personal achievement, which until then, had been the driving-force in my post-stroke recovery. Although the editing was excellent in every respect, for me, the book had lost its spirit. The life had gone out of it and it was as limp and useless as my right hand.
Others said the work was brilliant and should win awards, but I grew to despise it for the simple reason that it betrayed not my achievement, but only what I could accomplish with another's input.

I took the decision to withdraw the novel from the market. My first venture into becoming an author was nearly my last, but one characteristic I share with the fictional hero in my books is we do not give up. We never say, “I can’t.”

Just as I did with my painting after my second stroke, after a third stroke came along, I applied myself to studying. I learned editing practices and writing techniques. I focused on developing a system where I could hone my stories through several different stages until it was my best, and not my best enhanced, improved or adjusted by someone else. While I am still determined to achieve against the odds, I am immensely grateful for people who have helped, advised or guided me towards this goal. One such person is the British author and editor, Dorothy Davies. I have never met Dorothy, but her constant encouragement, criticism and advice through our social media connection has inspired me to progress in my ambition, and that is to produce a first class, award-winning novel of my own.

I do not recommend any writer to edit their own work unless of course, like me they only have half a brain and have spent years trying to perfect a system that works, but I have taken on the challenge and enjoyed every step on the way. My books still get amazing reviews and the occasional bad review, but whether it is 5 stars or 1, I feel I have a right to claim every single star as my own.

If you want to see my books, search Amazon for Philip Catshill

My paintings can be viewed at  which also has links to my poetry.

Philip Catshill

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Philip. It is 'narrow minded' to think there is only one way to do anything, and especially with creative or artistic areas. Isn't that the definition of art? To see things through a different perspective?