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.


I find myself in one of those places right now. You know where I mean. Swinging between fired up with enthusiasm for writing – ideas pouring out of every brain cell (until you sit down at the computer), supreme confidence that the next email will NOT be a rejection (except that I know it will be), The Phone Call will come (apart from the certain knowledge that it’s a pre-recorded advert for ‘No win, no fee’ sharks) and I WILL be published because I’m good, darn it (yeah, right).

I have things to work on – I actually have works in progress, plans and goals that are slightly more defined than “write something”. And I’m not totally depressed by the many rejections I’ve had so far. I had a blip last week where there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I do know that every one gets rejected, it’s par for the course, and if I want to be a Real Writer I’d better just get used to it, and JK Rowling had 50 million rejections and agents cursing themselves left right and centre, and one day my time will come, and… Yeah, anyway. But I’m finding myself paralysed.

Partly paralysed by exhaustion – brought on by the very inconsiderate sleeping habits of my baby and toddler. But also by the feeling that every word I write is leading towards kill or cure. I will either begin to see some progress, or I will lose all faith in myself. I’m hoping that I’m edging towards cure – as I said, I do have some plans and a couple of rays of light. But I’m stopping myself from really sitting down for a good spell at the computer by worries that I’m just not good enough and maybe it’s all pointless after all.

I need two things. I really, really need a good kick up the behind. I know the best thing I can do is start writing again and sending stuff out because The Call/Email/Letter will never come if I don’t but I need a push to get my brain out of that paralysis and moving again. I also need a big boost in self-confidence. My family are very encouraging, my writerly friends are amazing but I think (without being dramatic?) I need more. I need positive feedback – even if it’s in a rejection – and some real, deep constructive criticism. So I’m praying for both and I’m giving myself the kick up the bum (which is very difficult, ever tried? You need to be a real contortionist). I probably also need to stop writing self-pitying blog posts – this could have been 500 words of my novel…

Thanks for listening, folks. Tune in again.

PS keep an eye out for some exciting interviews coming to My Little Notepad soon…