Hello! If you’re new to this blog, I’ve been blogging about my experience of writing (and rewriting) my third novel for just over a year, although I blogged for quite a while before that on more general writing and book related matters. Last week, I submitted the draft I’ve been agonising over and already I have feedback from my brilliantly wonderful editor and fabulously marvellous agent. You may guess from my hyperbole that I am happy. Very, very happy. In fact, I’ve been doing the happy dance ever since I got the email, singing, they like it, they like it, they really, really like it!
Those of you who’ve followed my progress will know that it’s been a bit of a nightmare. I’ve really struggled with this book, and with the structure in particular. I knew that there was a story I really wanted to tell at the heart of it somewhere, but I got horribly lost along the way. There were points at which I despaired. Could I really do it? Had I had bitten off more than I could chew? There were times when my confidence was so low that I honestly wondered whether I would have to abandon the whole thing and start a different novel. But some part of me refused to give up.
The main point of this week’s post, is partly to share my absolute joy with you – I’ve been quick enough to share my frustrations and misery along the way so it’s only fair to share the good stuff too! And partly because I hope it will encourage and give hope to those of you who are battling with your own novels as we speak.
First of all – the joy! Picture this: you’ve sent off your second draft (the first having been an absolute pile of crap); you know it’s better, you believe in the story and care passionately about your characters, but a little niggle of self-doubt tells you it may still not be good enough. You know you won’t have to wait long for feedback – your editor knows you’re biting your nails – but you expect it’ll be at least a week or two. And then, a mere five days later, the email arrives, Telling you she loves it, you’ve cracked it, she started reading it and couldn’t put it down. Hoorah!!
Now you know why I’m doing the happy dance! Yes, there will be rewrites, but she assures me they’re small and nothing to worry about, and what’s more, she is deliberately not sending them through for a couple of weeks so that I can take a bit of a break.
So the other point is just to say, if you’re struggling with your novel, stick with it. It may take a long time, you may even need to go back to the beginning (I did – this draft is almost 80% completely new writing.) You may have to get rid of characters (see last week’s post); you may have to completely rethink your structure. But the chances are, there IS a way through, and you just have to keep working until you find it. My editor and agent both talked about my dedication, hard work, and commitment; I’m not saying that to show off, just to reiterate what all writers are told again and again: it’s 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration or it’s 10% talent and 90% sheer hard graft or however else you want to put it.
My favourite quote on the subject (and I have this pinned above my desk) is this;
‘Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.’
I’m going to have a break from the blog for a couple of weeks now and I’m off to Whitby for a few days to see the sea, eat fish and chips and catch up with some reading. I’ll start the blog again towards the end of September, and I intend to keep it going as I work through the editorial notes for book three and find a suitable title etc.
And then, dear readers, I invite you to come along with me as I take the perilous journey through the writing of novel number four…
Thank you again for all your support, and remember, persistence is everything!