Posts Tagged ‘novel’

Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that, “Holy shit…I’ve written a book,” which sounds really cool until certain realisations come to light. I’m unbelievably proud of what I’ve done, but now I’m at the stage where I have a first draft, I keep wondering where I go from here.

“To the pub,” was obviously my immediate response. Then I realised that the sight of a semi-drunken man beaming a smile of accomplishment across his face as he edits his project in public sort of invites minor injuries.  After all, who was it who said “Write drunk, edit sober”? Was it you? If so, well done. Let me pat you on the beret.

Writers have these, don't they?

Writers have these, don’t they?

What’s weird is, it doesn’t feel quite like I’ve written a book. Like, someone is going to come along at some point and tell me I’m missing something. I think it’s because I have a lot of trouble writing long passages and scenes. I started off doing short horror stories (well, technically I started off writing poetry as a teenager, but we shan’t go into that because the words ‘poetry’ and ‘teenager’ do not inspire positive images), so maybe I just became used to writing succinctly. Writing a whole book is vastly different and it’s something I’ve tried over and over for nearly a decade now.

At 44,000 words, I’m plagued by this idea that Passing Phases (that’s the title…quick, everyone start trending it on Twitter) is not big enough to be classed as a full-blown novel. Don’t get me wrong, the mere fact I got this far fills me with such pride I sometimes wonder if I should join the circus as a one-man towel rack. Has anyone else ever felt like this? (Not the towel business…that’s my own fantasy) Have you ever, say, directed a short film and thought “Nah, this isn’t a film. Films aren’t done this way”?

I think it being a ghostwritten book as well sort of makes it seem different. Yeah, of course there are plenty of books out there written by anonymous authors, so why do I sometimes have to keep telling myself that Passing Phases (Seriously, get that shit trending) is – or at least, will be – a proper book type thing?

It’s been lying dormant on my hard drive since last August. I’ve only just started re-opening it to carry on with edits. Maybe I just want to skip forward to the point where it gets published and – secret incantations being effective – sells quite well.

But I am excited. The guy I wrote it for has even managed to generate a little bit of interest from one or two publishers. It seems like it’s slowly coming back into existence after sitting still next to folders suspiciously labelled ‘The not-boobs directory’…Again, I’m really pleased about the prospect of someone maybe considering the manuscript, but I also feel a bit of a fraud.

Why would you even need to wear a mask on the internet..?

Why would you even need to wear that..?

I read stories about writers churning away night after night on their manuscript. Then editing it several times, writing query letters and sending them off to potential agents and publishers. Apart from emailing a few agents, I haven’t done any of that. So I’m struck by this notion that I’m not doing it right. Maybe other writers will read this and turn their noses up at the page in disgust…which means they won’t be able to read this next bit where I tell them they probably smell bad and their mothers have questionable morals.

In conclusion you lovely, shiny people: I wrote a book, currently unpublished. I’m extremely happy with how it’s turned out, but this is all new to me so I don’t know how else to feel…

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Perhaps a more apt title for this entry would be something along the lines of ‘Stare Incessantly At An Empty Word Document Scratching Your Balls And Mentally Breaking Down’.

I’ve reached another avenue in my yet-to-scale-the-mountains writing career in which I have once again become enthusiastic about engaging in a writing project. I tend not to refer to it as ‘starting a novel’ and prefer a much more Orwellian style of phrasing in which I tell people I am working on “something I am hoping to turn into a book”…so you’ll have to ignore this post’s title…

Between 2006 and now I have begun (and failed to complete) five novels. That’s about one every year. One of said stories was a beginning segment that I had to do for a university assignment. Something that I had pretty much planned out with every intention of continuing with long after I had graduated and drank away the memories of institutionalised academia.

Another one was part of the yearly online contest National Novel Writing Month (AKA ‘NaNoWriMo’ – I think the naming department are the same Hell beasts that branded Southern Comfort as ‘SoCo’…) in which entrants embark on a 30-day writing challenge to bash out 50,000+ words of a story they conjured up while waiting for Firefox to load.

Neither of these ever reached their ends. Though I did complete the 50,000 word challenge. The story wasn’t anywhere near finished but I had the foresight to print off the manuscript (That’s £12 at my local library I’ll never see again) and edit the whole thing by hand. Red pen and everything.

So far so good...

Again, this didn’t pan out. I have no ending in sight, the haphazard method by which I zoomed through the word count means that the syntax resembles how a blind gorilla would interpret a work of art using only snot. And the plot is so stream of conscious that entire paragraphs were formed before my brain could clock what language I was writing in. Ergo: the manuscript now lies dormant in a drawer under a heavy folder containing boring adult documents like bank statements, P45’s (a lot of them!) and that injunction that doesn’t deserve any more recognition here…

From my experience there seem to be several pitfalls when it comes to attempting a project of this magnitude. I have spoken to authors who have expressed feelings of soul-crushing loneliness, stacks of notes that litter desks like the aftermath of a despondent tree that ended its life by leaping into a wheat thresher. As well as the much hated ‘editing process’; a dreaded endeavour which would be the driving equivalent of making someone become a qualified mechanic before they could learn to drive.

I think my problem is that starting a new novel is much like taking on any fresh task. Everything feels so new and exciting. It’s a chance to set a goal in mind and to keep the brain active and the voices at bay until the wine kicks in. But I lose steam quite quickly. I think this is generally know in writing circles as ‘losing steam really fucking quick’. It’s like when I used to become enthusiastic about designing my own Quake levels. What inevitably happens is the game’s protagonist would wander around three meticulously designed rooms only to fall off the edge of the map into oblivion after something colourful fluttered by my window.

That’s what my attempts are, aren’t they? Evidence of a momentary spark of imagination interrupted by a hyperactive mind that grew up on television and Skittles. Someone should buy me blinkers.

But then there are the problems with the Internet. This is an age in which entire walls of text can appear like it was crafted with perfection the first time round because drafts are erased and edited without your carpet being covered in crumpled up paper. This entire entry has seen more than its fair share of the Backspace button, for example. And the less said about Internet porn the better. (I cannot believe I said that with a straight face!)

Which leads me round to my next point: why am I telling you all this on a free blog when these are words that could be used in the story I have been planning for nearly a year? There’s a war on you know!

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