Monthly Archives: January 2014

Confidence failure

You enter a competition.

You finally had the balls to do it.

Go you!

You’re feeling positive, you’re feeling great, you absolutely KNOW you’re something special; thsi time, it’s yours.

You get nothing.

Not even a longlist.

What happens next?

I didn’t know what would happen next until this happened to me. I had no idea that it would affect me so profoundly that months afterwards I’m still terrified of failure. ¬†Every couple of days or so my confidence keels over and goes to hide behind the sofa leaving me feeling terrified of language, words and sentences.

The truth is that I don’t know if I can do this. None of us do, I guess. ¬†And yet we still do.

I still do it.

Despite the (rare) rejections and negative comments I’ve had about my writing — and tehre have been a few — I keep going.

And you should too.

Because what happens to you if you stop is far worse than what happens if you fail.

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My “What next?” is calling.

Writing the end of a draft is tough.

First you have to get the pace and timing right, and if you’re anything like me, the end of the draft is where all the action happens. You’ll be eager to tie up all the ends in one neat chunk, which runs the risk of making things move way too fast.

The ends of my works in progress tend to be almost in note form, ideas spread across a page just to get them down. Pace is a problem.

Once you’re past pace, though, there’s something else. The thing that no one will tell you about. Well, the thing that everyone will tell you about but until you feel it, you’ll never know. It’s the reason why writing a book is often compared to giving birth. People will tell you how painful labour is, but you’ll never get just how much it hurts and what the euphoria feels like until you’re there in the moment.

That’s the second thing. It’s scary finishing a draft, because even though there’s another three, four, five, however many drafts to squeeze out, the first one cements the idea. It provides the foundations for the great book. It is a starting point for your charaters and plots and will be the piece that, once it’s cooled, will provide the inspiration and encouragement you need to keep going and going. Writing “The End” on that initial manuscript is exciting, thrilling. It’s a high like no other, and one that a lot of writers never get to experience as real life interferes or they reach the last five thousand words and decide they hate the 60 thousand previous ones. So, writing “The End” is reserved for those few who make it.

And it feels fantastic.

It’ll also break your heart. Your characters will have spent days, weeks, months, even years having conversations on your head, deciding their fates, being real, and now – well, now they’re done. You have to leave them be, stop spying on their worlds and let them be free.

I always have a sadness when I reach the end of a first draft. I cried the first couple of times, in fact.

The second thing brings with it a fear. Once you’ve been ecstatic and empty in equal measures, cried through joy and sadness, and decided to hide the draft away to give yourself time to breathe, you’ll feel it.

You’ll be hit by the “What next?”

And only you will be able to answer that one.

What’s on your plate?

Too much.

Isn’t that everyone’s answer?

Last year was the year I decided to start taking writing seriously. I wrote most of four novels (first drafts), entered two competitions (didn’t get anywhere), edited a novella, wrote professionally for two months (before real life and NaNoWriMo took over), almost completed a second draft, got Tots100 Good reads, joined Wattpad, joined Goodreads, made author friends, read countless unpublished drafts, encouraged authors to follow their dreams, wrote a total of around 270,000 words and generally entrenched myself in a beautiful world of people who are just as smitten with the art as I am.

I would say that is a pretty productive year.

This year I am back at doing real life things during the day which sometimes stretch on into the evenings. This means there is less time for writing.

With this in mind, I’m attempting to do approximately 1k per day (doesn’t always happen) and be available for bouncing ideas off as and when I can. I’ve become much more dependent on Evernote and now use it to not only form the beginnings of the novel and edit anywhere but also for those moments when an idea just begs to be jotted down.

I aim to get something on Wattpad this year and the idea is already in development. My nano project is having the ending haphazardly added ready for a harsh edit once I’m no longer in love with it, one of my other pieces is being read by a few dear and trusted friends. The novel in second draft will hopefully edge closer to being finished. I want to write some flash fiction and short stories. Other ideas are hitting me like small persistent pebbles.

It certainly looks like 2014 is going to follow the same lines as 2013.

And I can’t wait to get stuck in.