In My Bad Books No.1

London

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Ho ho, very droll – last night someone presented me with a copy of a book called ‘Creating Writing For Beginners’. You get this sort of thing a lot. But nothing quite like this book, by someone called Jim Green. It’s one of the most unintentionally hilarious manuals I’ve ever skipped through. First of all, it’s clearly self-published. Second, it’s bogus. There’s a clue in the opening sentence…

”I took up writing on a part time basis seventeen years ago and to date have churned out 47 published titles, all of which have attained bestseller status.’ Did you spot the awkward word verb there?

Here he is on thoughts. ‘Everything that does happen and materialise starts first as a thought in the mind. You will have many thoughts as you prepare to start writing.’ Then Jim asks a list of very important questions.

1. How can I tell if I have what it takes to be a writer?

2. Isn’t it a bit late to be finding out now?

3. Wouldn’t this impose disciplines that conflict with my lifestyle?

4. What do I know that could fill a book?

Here are some of the chapters: ‘Determining Your propensity For Writing Niche Non-Fiction’. ”Using Magnetic Verbs To Create’, Softening Your Awareness’ and ‘Grasping Ideas As They Occur’. I have no idea what these mean, but never mind. Let’s plough on before we start churning out bestsellers all over the place.

Under ‘Commanding the Subconscious’ we get to the root of the matter. ‘The subconscious is the seat of reaction and emotion and when the reader absorbs benefits that are created with verbs these benefits literally turn into commands for the subconscious. For example, the phrase Create Unlimited Profits is a stimulus to act. The subconscious is compelled to comply because that’s what it does. If you can be effortlessly drifted into a trance the hypnotist will rapidly prove that the subconscious acts on commands. Make 100 percent more money in six weeks!’

There are several zillion pages of this drivel, but I like Jim’s honesty; Here’s a key chapter – ‘The WIIFM Question and why you must Address it’. Apparently the most important thing to remember is WIIFM – or ‘What’s In It For Me?’ At one point Jim explains that one of his motivations for churning out 47 bestsellers, apart from what was in it for him, was his ‘Almost encyclopaedic knowledge of tramcars’. By the time we get to the end of the book his total number of bestsellers has risen to 49, presumably because he accidentally churned out another two while writing this. But not before Jim imparts a final word of wisdom under a chapter called;

‘Little Known Secret To Controlling the Floodgates’ (No, me neither)

‘It is as uncomplicated as steering clear of the seasonality factor when choosing a topic for execution. This sounds like a contraction in terms but it is not. A topic can be current but with inherent strands of durability attaching; conversely, a topic that is seasonal is almost certainly a fad or fashion and temporary in nature. The identification of longevity is the little known secret to injecting bestseller potential and thus opening the floodgates to the prospect of a successful first impression followed by subsequent actions. It calls for concentrated effort where introspection, intuition and research have a part to play.’

And here we have the problem of the new self-publishing fad or fashion bestsellers; any imbecile can place their ramblings into a book and con people into forking out for it. The press is full of stories about bestselling phenomenons. The publishers of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ legitimised this sort of random untrained typing and soon a film studio will legitimise it further – and so the world drowns in nonsense while great writers are consigned to the dustbin for being, in some lazy PR hack’s opinion, no longer relevant.

That’s why I write the ‘Invisible Ink’ columns – to try and remind us that the power and beauty of language that has already been published to acclaim is now in danger of being lost to whinnying morons.

13 comments on “In My Bad Books No.1”

  1. Martha Ullard says:

    Jim Green’s opus reads like machine-generated text. I suspect it shares authorship with such seminal works as “The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed”

  2. Mike Cane says:

    Oh geez. I recognize a lot of that mind drivel from the New Thought movement, some of which people first encounter in Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” (which, um, incorporated a lot from Charles Haanel’s “The Master-Key to Riches”) if they actually read a book, otherwise they’ve encountered it in the Samuel Smiles rip-off “The Secret” (initiate and suppress gag reflex) in movie, then book, form. Did he actually delve into things like, you know, plot, dialogue, characterization, pacing, etc? Or do those things get in the way of “churning”?

    Aw, stop picking on Fifty Shades. I know it’s the whipping boy of the moment, but this has been going on for ages. Just remember: Raymond Chandler’s work is immortal while all his contemporaries who were heralded are forgotten and unread today.

  3. Dan Terrell says:

    Mike: I like the “whipping boy of the moment” comment. That might be a reference to one of the narrator’s momentary boyfriends. No. I’ve read about, not read the books.
    And “Little Known Secret to Controlling the Floodgates” sounds like a senior, er, non-fiction title.

  4. John says:

    I’m with Martha. I think the mystery of Jim Green’s incomprehensible style can be traced to the Google translation software program.

    BTW – the cover illustration looks like it belongs on a copy of Creative Plagiarism for High School Students.

  5. Daniel says:

    I wonder how many eels are in his hovercraft?

    Also, I’m not the only one who feels that commands to the subconscious should be intoned, am I? Preferably while wearing a suitably grave expression and staring into the middle distance.

    “CREATE! UNLIMITED! PROFITS!”

    Hand gestures, too. Hand gestures probably help.

    I think I might try the tips contained in the extracts quoted here, though, and see if they work. If anyone needs me, I’ll be at my desk… Churning.

  6. andrea yang says:

    all of Jim’s bestsellers must be “published” under pseudonyms because not even the tome in the photo shows up on Amazon!

  7. John Howard says:

    I want to know what Magnetic Verbs are. Which way are they polarised? Do they repel or attract Nouns? Do semiquavers from the musical dimension bind themselves to them and create harmonic resonances in the sub plot?

    Jim, if you are reading this please help..

    Daniel, I think that one of the commands to the subconscious, intoned as you illustrated could be: EXTERMINATE…

  8. John Howard says:

    Thank you admin. I suspect the blog is definitely funnier than the book.

  9. Helen Martin says:

    My – head – hurts! also my stomach and chest from laughing. Make big money by writing. What strange concept do you find in this sentence? Jim is most definitely churning but is also most definitely not writing.

  10. snowy says:

    250 sheets of soft, strong and absorbent paper, be a shame to waste it. 😉

  11. Ben says:

    …and you can read an example of one of Jim’s tramcar epics right here, courtesy of Amazon. I bring you ‘Star Of India’: http://www.amazon.com/Star-of-India-ebook/dp/B009W9ZQCM

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  13. Helen Martin says:

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    Anyway, I read the page from the Star of India and I don’t think much of it. The story could be very good but there were a number of infelicities in the writing of that one page so I don’t think I would bother even if I had a kindle. There was a young people’s book highly touted in our area, a first person story about a girl who escaped from the Nazis only to meet prejudice in Canada, not because she was Jewish, but because she was poor and foreign. Now that should have been an important book because there were only a half a dozen for kids dealing with that situation and the writer who had experienced it was a professor (sessional lecturer?) in the creative writing department at the university. I bought it sight unseen, read it, shelved it, and didn’t recommend it. She was too close to the subject and couldn’t make up her mind whether she was writing fiction or a memoir. There were incidents which should have been omitted because they ruined the flow, but they were vivid in her mind and she couldn’t leave them out. Aside from that the writing was not particularly good. If only she’d had an editor who could force her somehow to read her own work the way I’m sure she read that of her students. It isn’t enough to know how to write, you have to be able to do it as well.

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