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Completing my debut novel

by | Apr 23, 2015

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I’ve mentioned in a few older blog posts about how I was writing a novel, but I never went into too much detail about the how and why of this process. I guess through fear of nothing ever happening with my (now finished!) manuscript. But it was time to stamp all over that happiness leech a.k.a the fun sucker, as by not talking about my passion for writing (at the top of my list along with travel, eating cakes and breaking into impromptu dances when the mood takes me) I am not being myself on this blog.

So to throw caution to the wind Pocahontas style, I am coming out with it. I am a writer. My dream, ever since I was able to hold a pencil in my chubby hands, was to be a bestselling published author. As much as I have advanced my fine motor skills, my writing didn’t advance as quickly.

I was always stuck with the fear that I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t funny enough, no-one would care what little old me had to say, in a world of louder voices I didn’t have enough of a foghorn big gob to be heard, it wasn’t going to go anywhere so why waste my time… etc etc … blah blah blah.

But then after my breakup, the one where I relooked every area of my life, I realised that I may as well give it a go. If I didn’t empty my mind onto paper how would I ever know if I was good enough, funny enough, that people would care? So I started this blog, I started to get into the habit of writing as often as I could on things that I cared about. I entered short story competitions, I scoured the net for writing advice trying to perfect the art of the craft from many books, articles and YouTube videos. I was a little sponge taking in every nugget of information, convinced if I tried this method or that style I would reach the magic goal and be an overnight sensation, pah easy.

The problem was with all this productive procrastination I still wasn’t writing my story, the story in my head where characters prodded me in my sleep frowning at why I hadn’t taken them from my imagination onto my laptop screen. The kick up the bum I needed was getting Rosie Blake as my writing mentor as part of the fab Womentoring Project (if you’re a female writer looking for priceless support then please do check it out). Here was a successful, talented and hilarious author telling me my writing was actually quite good, I should stop doubting myself and carry on aiming for my dream. Having a stranger read my words and tell me this, was the boost I needed. With her help I devised a plan, a plot rather than vomiting words in no particular order, and locked myself away to write. Write some more, edit then write some more.

Before my grandma passed away last summer I visited her in the hospice. Conversation was difficult but she found the breath to ask how I was getting on with my book, she believed in me and urged me to never give up. I made a promise right there and then that it would be finished to the best of my ability, not just left to linger in a drawer full of lost hopes and dreams. I owed it to her, to myself, to push my limits and keep the faith.

It wasn’t as easy as some authors make it look. Sometimes the words didn’t flow or even make sense but for every tear-your-hair-out-moment that it wasn’t coming together deep down I knew it was going to be worth it, the perseverance that I was going to finish this book outweighed any moments of anxiousness. Draft one was completed, then draft two, then more tweaking to draft three after deciding to change the tense from 1st person to third person and back again, ah that was a joy*.

*Note sarcastic tone.

But with each draft I learnt more, got further under the skin of the story and saw my time with these fictional characters as if hanging out with friends. For any non-writers this sounds like I need to be locked up in a mental hospital but trust me it’s quite normal. The feeling of typing The End was a feeling like no other. Those two simple words filled me with a sense of spine tingling pride that I’d just accomplished something so magical.

So reader, where does this story end? Well I’ve sent off my finished manuscript (all 97,000 words of it) to agents and have started on my second novel. This time I don’t have the overwhelming feeling that a blank page used to give me, but rather if I’ve done it once then I can do it again. Even if it takes me one or one hundred novels to get to where I want to go then so be it. The important thing is that I am chasing this dream and not letting the fear of failure hold me back.

2 Comments

  1. Charlene Moore

    Congratulations on writing your first novel! I will be keeping all of my fingers and toes crossed that it will one day soon be published – and I will definitely buy a copy if it is!

    I have friends who are published authors, and my boyfriend’s first novel was published last spring, so I’ve been close to people who have been through the pain and euphoria of writing. I recognised your process of writing, editing, then re-writing again – I think my boyfriend had to eventually let it go, accept he was never going to be 100% sure it was finished, and click “send”. With something you’ve poured so much of your heart and imagination into, it must be difficult to not be a perfectionist.

    x

    Reply
    • Katy

      Thank you lovely. The pain and euphoria is a great way to look at it! I guess you could sit and tinker with it forever but then it would never see the light of day. Gotta take a deep breath and press send , giving it a kiss to go into the big wide world! Eeek! X

      Reply

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