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Creative support for business writers, pre-published writers and for writers-in-a-rut.

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

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“I am writing a story about my ex-husband who was a real bastard,” the attractive read-head tells me. I am facilitating a memoirs workshop and I ask each delegate why they are writing their story. “Really?” I respond to the redhead. I am curious about her story especially as this is nothing new to me. I tell her that many divorced people think their exes are bastards.

“Well not many people have gone through the traumatic experience of the husband sleeping with her best friend on their wedding day,” she tells me. I can see the memory is still painful.

I suggest she rather turns her story into fiction. Not only could it cause problems for people in the story but she faces the probability of legal actions if she publishes the book. Unfortunately, the scorned red-head is not interested in my advice and proceeds to write the story. A few months later I receive her manuscript for a critique. I turned her down. The book displayed the names of her ex-husband (who incidentally is now married with kids) as well as her ex-best friend.  Obviously, publishers will never accept this book (unless she was a famous person).

I see the reason for this type of story as narcissistic.

The narcissistic writer’s reason for writing is a selfish one; she wants the world to know how she was rejected, despite the fact that innocent people may be affected by the story. It has nothing to do with the desire to become a published writer.

Narcissism is a personality disorder, loosely defined as ‘extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration’.

If a pre-published writer has this personality disorder it can spell disaster in the current self-publishing trend that is sweeping through the book-world. No longer does this type of manuscript need to go through a gatekeeping process. Just write your story, upload it onto any e-book platform and the world has access to your world.

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The breaking up of a long term relationship or a messy divorce are painful life events. Many published romance

writers incorporate this as themes into their fiction. Obviously the story will have a happy ending and is far more beneficial for the reader who may have experienced similar life experiences as the protagonist.

Don’t misunderstand. Writing about the experience can be a cathartic experience for the wounded soul. In fact, I encourage it.

Here is one piece of advice I give out free of charge to any person writing about an ex. When you type in the words THE END, the manuscript should be shelved in a dark place – never to see daylight again. Hopefully by writing your story, you will gain some perspective about the break-up and will be ready to face the world and open yourself to new relationships. Perhaps one day you can use your story as inspiration for a scene or character if you are serious about becoming a published writer. You could adapt it as a work of fiction, something based on real life events but changed enough so that details and characters are not recognisable should someone from your past read the story.

The sword inflicts a wound that heals quickly and may leave a superficial scar. The pen creates a wound that is much deeper. Although it is not visible it does manifest itself through intentions and behaviour.

Self-publishing provides the stage for the narcissistic writer to make a statement to the world. The problem is that the only people who will read the book are the people connected to the narcissist. The rest will avoid this type of writer like the plague.

Serious about becoming a published writer? Send in your manuscript for an appraisal. Contact: or call 071 636 8026.