UnAndrewCrofts-likeness (Mistake #84)

Nick Higham’s Meet the Author is always insightful – Higham is always clearly very interested in the people he interviews – and this one with king of ghostwriting Andrew Crofts is particularly pertinent to non-fiction writers.

Andrew Crofts is terrific. I couldn’t tell you whether I’ve read one of his books, and that’s one of the reasons underlying why I think he’s terrific – because his name doesn’t always appear on the cover, you may not know whether you’ve read one of his books either.

Crofts is essentially a writer – a biographer – for hire. He looks for interesting stories, and he tells them. In the interview, he makes clear he’s not that interested in boosting his ego, but instead appears driven by gaining access to material that only lives inside remarkable individuals’ heads.

There are so many lessons new writers can learn from Crofts I barely know where to start. He is interested in other people more than in himself – too many new writers start out wanting ‘to tell the world what I think’ – but the writer who will succeed in this game soon comes to learn that other people are more fascinating than he is. He’s not that bothered about seeing his name ‘in lights’ – and a lot of writing which newer writers turn up their noses at (eg copywriting, which pays well) is anonymous. ‘I’ve done virtually every type of writing,’ he says – and this is something more writers should be able to say once they’ve been working with words for some years. Have a go, even if you don’t think it’s quite ‘you’: you might be good at it; it may pay well; possibly both, if you’re in luck. You might even get to visit a brothel (so Andrew says, so don’t blame me …)

While I might quibble with him over his point that writers often have to wait for the phone to ring (don’t wait – get on the phone yourself and fire some ideas out), I’m prepared to forgive him anything because he wore such a bloody marvellous suit for his interview, and as soon as I complete the next paragraph, I’ll be buying his new book, Confessions of a Ghostwriter, which I suspect will be a sound investment to all those scribes starting out in this business.

So today’s message to kick off your week? Be more AndrewCrofts-like – find new stories, write them like there’s no real glory in it for you, and – why not – don a top jacket while you’re doing it.

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