Friday, 8 April 2011


I LOVE meeting other people who write. It's rare to find anyone else who understands what it means to grapple with dialogue, endlessly re-write a first chapter in the first person, third person, present and past tense in every possible combination.

Then I discovered Authonomy. There are ten thousand (unpublished) authors on the site, all with a novel, true-life story or poetry/story collection. You can read people's profiles, but will often learn more about them from what they wrote. People will write the most intimate (and sometimes deranged) personal memoirs, about how they were a low-class hooker, drug addict, or journey to Jesus.

Some of these books are excellent and have gone on to be published. Others aren't. But they're still riveting. The writers hang everything out: their dirty secrets, their personality disorders, their heartfelt, not necessarily well-constructed writing. It's touching, hilarious, and disturbing by turns.

Reading it feels almost too intimate at times, but often, like a car crash, it's hard to look away. It isn't just a morbid curiosity - it's the force of the human drama. In a way these people seem more interesting than well known authors, perhaps because they are less immaculately packaged.

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