Budding novelists, you have 24 days to get published
I probably should have told you this last week, but if you're an aspiring novelist and can get a novel written in the month of November, you've an outside chance of getting it published.
Hundreds of thousands of hopefuls will be doing just that as part of National Novel Writing Month, which was dreamt up in the United States 11 years ago and has now become so popular worldwide that 200,000 books are expected to be uploaded on to its website (NaNoWriMo) before November 30.
If that sounds a daunting task, you may be encouraged to learn that Muriel Spark tossed off The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in four weeks, Dostoyevsky wrote The Gambler in less than that, while such sluggards as Charles Dickens managed A Christmas Carol in six weeks, the same length of time it took William Faulkner to write As I Lay Dying.
And let's not forget Georges Simenon, who rattled off some of his 400 novels in 10-day bursts of creativity, or Barbara Cartland, who can't have spent much time fretting over linguistic niceties in her 723 romances.
It doesn't mean you'll become famous, of course, though 55 novels written under this online project have found traditional publishers, including some bestsellers. So, with 24 days of November left, maybe your book will become one of them.
Meanwhile, even in these recessionary times, Salman Rushdie has got a multi-million-euro deal from Random House to write his memoirs. Given that the book will address the death sentence placed on him by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1988 and the decade or so he subsequently spent in hiding, it's likely to be a huge commercial success.
Indeed, not much is known about the real Rushdie -- despite the frequent gossip-column photos of him in the company of attractive younger women, he's always been famously guarded about his private life. But you'll have to wait until 2012 for his revelations.