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I spent much of my 22nd year writing a 400-page supernatural thriller set in a fictionalised version of my secondary school

12th June, 2016
Writers often receive unsolicited, and frequently unreadable, manuscriptsiStock

All writers start out bad. This is one of those immutable laws against which there can be no appeal. James Joyce, aged 18, wrote a dismal pastiche of Henrik Ibsen called A Brilliant Career, which – with a Dedalian flourish – he dedicated “to my own Soul”. Gustave Flaubert, before he embarked on Madame Bovary, devoted five years to the composition of a chaotic 800-page historical fantasia called The Temptation of St Anthony.

And,...

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