Breaking the Habit of Self-Deprecation: Fleur Smithwick

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Fleur Smithwick was brought up in London and studied French Literature and Language at Southampton University. Fleur has worked in various jobs, including twelve years as a school secretary, before becoming a full-time writer. As well as novels, she writes short stories and has won The Writers’ Village and Segora competitions and has been shortlisted twice for Fish Publishing and The New Writer. Her debut novel is called How to Make a Friend. She lives in Richmond with her husband and two children.

“Since signing my contract one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn is how to draw a line under years of self-deprecation and start sounding like I think I’ve written a resoundingly good book. The question, ‘So what’s your book about?’ with its poorly concealed subtext, ‘Will I like it?  Is it actually any good?  Has anyone other than your mother bought and read it yet?’ is expecting a humble reply, and more often than not, will get it.

“For those writers who, like me, have many years of rejection under their belts and are used to carefully phrasing replies so that friends and family don’t feel desperately sorry for us and assume we are too deluded to know we are heading for rejection – again, our response can all too often be to put both ourselves and our books down, to imply that neither matter that much.  Well they do.

“The moment an agent accepts your manuscript, you have to begin changing your mind-set and body language. The annoying word that keeps cropping up in all sorts of inappropriate places these days is curate.  People are curating everything from their digital photo albums to their knicker drawers, so why not curate our standard responses?  Like removing pictures from galleries because they are no longer relevant, remove the words, ‘Oh, it’s nothing really. Boy meets girl. That sort of thing.’  And replace them with something bright, confident and positive.  ‘Oh, how lovely of you to ask.  As a matter of fact I’m really happy with it. The reviews have been fantastic…’

And smile and mean it.”


Follow Fleur on Twitter: @FleurSmithwick


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