The critical self-publisher?

IMG_3851Does self-publishing make one more critical of one’s own writing? Or is that something that inevitably comes with age and experience?
Maybe it’s simply that most of the books I’ve recently self-published were written long ago (and formerly published by others).

I used to be offended when editors or reviewers described my middlebrow historical fiction as ‘Romantic’, but I think maybe they were right to do so, if by ‘romantic’ one means skimming the surface of the nastiness of life, leaving out its most grim and sordid aspects, even when writing of turbulent events. Having read some of the work of fine writers such as Hilary Mantel, Maria MacCann etc, with their unflinching descriptions of past times, the stench, the cruelty, I see how much I do leave out; I suppose because as a reader (and so as a writer) I prefer not to read anything so stark. When I read, I want to leave behind the world’s cruelty for a time, not seek it out in its worst aspects – or at least not to dwell on it. Much the same applies when I write.

Yet my favourite modern historical novelist is the late Dorothy Dunnett; my all-time favourite historical novel is ‘War and Peace’ – and neither Dunnett nor Tolstoy could be described as writers of romantic fiction, nor do they avoid life’s harshness.
But then I’m not, alas, either Dorothy Dunnett or Tolstoy…

On the other hand, I do have a handful of satisfied readers, which is as much as any writer can ask for.

 

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