Everyone does not have a novel inside them

Tim Clare in The Guardian:

Sillitoe_corona1There is an auld axiom beloved of burnt-out English teachers, glamour-impoverished fantasists and a million other drudges seeking to transcend their lives of quiet desperation: everyone has a novel inside them.

This slogan has been appropriated as an article of faith by the amateur writing community, whilst its corollary – as a novelist, you have six-and-a-half billion potential rivals – remains the gravest of heresies. Like a blind man in a room of ill-positioned rakes, any group indulging in such wilful myopia is doomed to a series of unpleasant collisions with reality.

Curiously unsatisfied with the idea that being a successful novelist requires the ability to write books that a consistently large number of people are prepared to buy, jaded scribblers search instead for an explanation that will permit them to retreat with their pride and delusions intact. As W Somerset Maugham put it: “I have never met an author who admitted that people did not buy his book because it was dull.”

More here.