A Meaningless and Random Poll

So, I hear that there is a natural point when writing a novel (or two or three points) where you think it’s a load of rubbish and you think of a newer, shinier idea and you shouldn’t be wasting your time with this one, blah de blah de blah. I hear that you’re supposed to push through this stage and come out the other side feeling motivated to press on and finish, having fought your particular dragon and emerged victorious. I have one question.

Should I?

Yes, I’m at that point. It’s not that I can’t see where the story’s going or that the characters aren’t behaving or that I’m struggling to get a first draft down. That’s fine – family circumstances have made it more difficult lately to get solid writing time but I’m fine once I do get a chance. The story’s all planned out and so far working out well, and I’m actually very fond of my characters. The problem is, that I see and read books by both classic and modern writers that are absolutely fantastic and I’m just pretty sure that I don’t measure up.

My story, which until recently I was pretty happy with, doesn’t have any major themes or deal with pressing social issues or discuss matters of life, death, faith or the universe. It’s not a bone-chilling thriller or a powerful insight into, well, anything. It is, I like to think, an entertaining story with likeable characters. Is that enough?

The other side of all this is, does this matter? It’s my first novel. I know perfectly well that the statistics are against this getting published, and that it’s a big step on my development as a writer – if i don’t ever have a first novel I will never get better and I will never, ever have a published novel. It will be an achievement in itself to get it finished, and I have every intention of asking people to read it for me and getting feedback, both paid and from friends.

So here’s my meaningless and random poll. Do I…

a) give up and take up knitting

b) persevere, seeing it as nothing more than a learning curve and an exercise

c) persevere because it could actually go somewhere

d) ignore this poll, ignore my doubts and make the very best job of this that I can?

I guess I’ve answered my own question there, but I’d still be interested to hear what people think.

10 thoughts on “A Meaningless and Random Poll”

  1. I don’t think there are any hard and fast answers, Becca. If your heart isn’t in the current project then maybe you should set it aside for a while and try something else. Then again, if you believe in it, you should push through.

    I think only you know what your gut says.

  2. Huh. Not helpful 😉

    I’m enjoying the book, I just get one of those moments when you see so many people producing some really good stuff and wonder if I can ever measure up.

    Thank you Jane x

  3. I’m of the “push right on through” brigade. I’ve never written a book but I know that perseverance pays off. Maybe not in the way you want/expect it to, but it does pay off. And if you never finish anything you never get anything.
    On saying that, Jane is correct, if it doesn’t feel right, set it aside.

    Happily, I am in a good position with this poll…I have read your WIP and really enjoyed the voice and the way you are writing it. What I have read of it left a positive impression. That must speak for something (not that I, in particular, think it’s good, who the heck am I?), but that it resonated with someone, someone enjoyed it, read a sentence with a smile/smirk of recognition!

    At the end of the day, it seems that a lot of the creative process is doubt. It’ll always be there…man am I glad I just deal with hard and fast stuff!


  4. Thank you Ciara 🙂 Like I said, it’s more about me than the book. And thank you for that feedback, it really does mean a lot x

  5. Right, now that I’ve been supportive, can I give my real thoughts? Get on with it or I’ll kick you in the pants! 😛

  6. The way I see it, you have a few options.
    You could carry on with the current project; after all, you have put a lot of effort into it so far and judging from the bit I have seen, it’s really good.
    You could put it away for a while and perhaps work on something small while you mull things over – a short story or your nano project – and go back to your current WIP, perhaps refreshed.
    You could bin it – please don’t do that.
    You could start on something different altogether.
    Personally, I would work on a short story for a bit. I agree with you – your story doesn’t need to be big or clever. Some stories just have to entertain. Does your character change by the end of the book? Does she learn anything? I bet there is a theme there.
    But as Jane said, only you know what you should do. I’d just be disappointed not to read the rest of it.

  7. Thanks Nettie! I’m going to keep pushing on with it – I think I should. I would also like to get a couple of shorts written too, maybe when I get home I’ll be able to split up my time a bit better!

    You’re right actually, she does change – or rather, develop – by the end of the book, so I guess there is a theme. Thank you 🙂 x x x

  8. I think it’s good to take a break if you are feeling bogged down in a WIP. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway as my first agent rejection has come in and I plan to wait until the new year before taking any further action with my first novel.

    But you sound like you are still enjoying your WIP at the moment so I would say carry on with it. Sometimes it’s good to take a break from novel writing to write a short/flash/poem to keep the creative juices flowing. It certainly helped me when I was doing NaNo as I would write flash as my “breaks”.

  9. I always say you write for yourself first.Stop comparing with others and tell the story you have. What other people think of it is a problem for another time. I wouldn’t have put a word to paper if I allowed my usual self criticism to affect my writing. However I see it as a chance to ‘play’, and with those stories I do put into the public domain it’s always a bonus when somebody likes it.

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