Friday, 1 November 2013

Leah - Remember, Remember To Write In November

Oh boy. 

I've got my thinking horns on...
When I realised I’d put my name down for November’s blog entry, my first thought was; ‘Yey, NaNoWriMo post!’ However… now that November is here and my plans are solidifying, I’d actually like to talk to you about something else.

Those of you familiar with my blog will have probably heard me talk about Silk Over Razor Blades. This is the novel that I was working on when I joined the Phoenix Writers and have been, in some form, since 15 years old (I’m 29 now, by the way).

Each time I looked at it, I thought the piece was done. I was proud and happy with my accomplishments. I was also willing (and eager) to send it out into the big, wide world. Yet, each time I did, the opening chapters and synopsis came back with a list of depressing form rejections as long as my arm. I now have a folder full of the damn things, some from as far back as 1999.

Was novel poorly written? Was the story just not marketable? Were my characters boring and wooden? Was my dialogue fluffy and far-fetched? Did the plot resemble Swiss cheese? In truth, it could have been any of those things, and previous incarnations of the book certainly ticked some, if not all, of those boxes. However, the last draft suffered one big problem and now for the first time, I can see it.

I was bored of the story when I wrote it. I can’t articulate exactly how, but I know it’s there because it shows. Stiffening the characters. Stifling the plot. Clogging up the pace. Nothing spells death for a novel as well as the author being sick of it.

When you’ve worked on a novel (or anything) for such a long time, it’s inevitable that the initial spark, the joy that kick-started everything, will fade. In some cases, it will die completely. Hopefully you can finish your project before this point, but in some cases that’s just not possible. Sometimes, instead, you have to cut your losses and let go. Wrap it up. Put it away. Maybe not forever (things change, after all), but for now. Move on. Do fresh things.

I had to make myself do this. Fortunately for me the task was made somewhat easier by the birth of my sons since I had no time to write or query. As time progressed and gaps to write opened once more, I focused on non-fiction (I’ve got to earn money somehow!), flash fiction and short stories. The result of all this is a few extra pennies in the bank, a self-published ebook available on Amazon and Smashwords and, more importantly, a better understanding of plot, character, pacing and my own self.

This means that there is no time better than now to try again!

In a neat and totally deliberate way (honest!), this brings me all the way back to where I started. NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month; the crazy thirty days in which thousands of people all over the world race to write a 50,000 word novel.

I will be taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. I had planned to anyway, but this year I’ll be working on Silk Over Razor Blades and starting again
A daunting task, but I know so much more than I did before: I know now that I was bored of the story because I kept trying to hold onto all the ideas rumbling around in my head. Some of them from more than 10 years old. I was also bored because I wanted to ‘write something that would sell.’ While sales would be lovely, it’s boring. So, so boring!

If I’m going to write anything, it has to be for me. I’m the one that has to write it, I’m the one that has to edit it and I’m the one that has to believe it in strongly enough to convince an agent they want to represent it. If I can’t do that, then I still need to convince other people to part with their hard earned cash should I decide to self-publish.

So… wish me luck! I’ll be charting progress on my blog and using the NaNoWriMo’s dashboard to record words and keep up to date with how everyone else is doing.
Please do look me up if you fancy company; I’ll stick all my contact deets at the bottom for you. I’d love to know how you’re getting on.


NaNoWriMo Profile:
Twitter: @ileandrayoung