books · editing · writing

Words for the Aspiring Novelist In Me

When you say “I’m a writer” the image most people probably imagine is you, sitting in front of a computer with a cup of coffee tapping away, or sitting at a cafe table with a cup of coffee scribbling in your notebook, both scenarios with a happy smile on your face as you finally decide on the name “Catherine”.

What they don’t realise is that when you announce your profession, career, dream, hobby, entire life as being a writer, you really mean you sit in many places agonising over characters, scenes, plot holes, your talent or lack of it, how you’re going to get it published – or even finished!

Doubt can be the hardest thing.  You are not relying on skills you’ve honed over the years or a routine. You are relying on the quality of stuff you made up. You made up people. You made up their story. You are, hopefully, putting it some semblance of order so that people can comprehend it.

Somehow “real” people (because the people who live in your head are real as well!) will want to read this stuff you decided boldly to share with everyone and as you point proudly to your finished novel you can shout

“Look! I did that! Out of my head, that is. Isn’t it lovely?”

At least that’s the dream – if you have the aforementioned doubt of which every writer at some stage experiences, you  wonder what’s the point? I’m not as good as Gaiman, Pratchett, King, Martin, Hobbs…. I don’t have their style. I don’t have their ability! I’m an amateur. I’m unpublished. My story is crap. It makes no sense and I don’t like it any more. Bin!

DO NOT BIN IT! You will at some stage realise you’re being stupid and that if they can do it, so the hell can you! No writer is the same. Everyone has their own style. Some readers may fall in love with your style! So what if your language isn’t as lyrical or aesthetic as Poppy Brite, or you feel your characters take more getting to know than Gaiman’s… that doesn’t make your talents any less deserving of seeing your made up stuff hit the bookshelves ready for people to buy!

Keep on trucking. Keep your head clear. Even when you’re hating it, keep writing, because sooner or later you’ll realise it ‘aint half bad and begin to like it again.

These are words I wish I had the sense to utter to myself every day when I’m tired, stressed, rushed, and trying to sit down to edit a book I feel I have no passion for because of the shitty day I’ve just had. If I had no passion for it, I wouldn’t have been working on it whenever I could for the last 8 years.

So shut up, Jade, and edit Chapter 12.

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