clearskies, bluewater

Insights, reflections and creative imaginings for our awakening world

Confessions of a would-be novelist

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Dear Readers, I have a true confession. Inside of me there is a novel, a story, which wants to be told, which is, in fact, more than half-written, and it is waiting patiently for me, its author and creator, to get busy and finish it. It’s not that I don’t want to, not really. It’s more like it’s sort of stuck in a kind of limbo, a fetus in the womb which needs more nourishment before it can grow large and strong enough to finally emerge into the world and be seen. This unborn baby is crying for me to do something to help it. I hear its daily suffering, yet am so far incapable of rescuing it from limbo.

Why? You may well ask. I think there are several parts to the answer. For one thing, the Voice of Criticism stops me with thoughts such as, “Are you kidding? Who ever told you that you could write? My dog could write better than that!” and, “Well, of course even if you did finish that ridiculous novel of yours, the chances of ever being published are somewhere between a snowball and hell, and even if you did by some miracle finally get it published, who on earth would ever want to read it?” You get the picture. That Critical Voice is tough alright, and pretty mean too. I know perfectly well I shouldn’t listen, and simply ignore her (yes she is a feminine voice) and get on with it…. and yet.

Then there is the other part, which is about, well, yes, how does one actually get a book published in this modern world, and then find readers? Okay, I know about the ‘new world of publishing’ and e-books, self-publishing, marketing, creating readership through social networking, etc, …. but honestly, I would so much rather simply Write the damn thing, and let somebody else figure out how and who is going to read it! The whole idea of having to do an entire song and dance selling the book before I have even finished writing the first draft is making me feel nauseous. What happened to the good ol’days of “Just write it and they will come?” Or am I making it up that those days ever really existed?

From the sheer volume of blogs on WordPress alone, it is not difficult to see that many, many humans are writing and ‘self-publishing’ on the net every single day, and that a fairly good percentage of them also have stories and novels, all sorts of writings, burning inside of them, clamouring to get out. I am far from alone in this, obviously. So I can easily become overwhelmed with it all, start feeling like I am just another lowly worm on the ground of the Author Hierarchy of the Western World, which then leads to such discouragement that I simply let yet another day go by without writing (my novel, that is.) What is to be done about my dilemma?

If I were to take Natalie Goldberg’s advice, or even Julia Cameron’s, for that matter, I would: 1) write every day, 2) ignore that Critical, Mean Voice, and 3) keep writing until I finish the novel, never mind the naysayers in my head and in the world. Good advice. And I am writing nearly every day, by doing this here blog!, I argue with my self. Oh yeah? Then why is your novel sitting on your computer and in some journals on your shelf, collecting virtual (and actual) dust? Why don’t you just…. finish it?

In the movie The Fountain, Isabel tells her husband Tommy to “Finish it!”

Dear Readers, I implore you who are of the writing persuasion to help me! I feel I cannot do this alone, and beating myself up for not doing it isn’t exactly enough motivation to continue. Any words of wisdom and encouragement would be greatly appreciated about now. Every time I glance at that stupid calendar thingy on the side of my blog, where it says how many months to go before I am finished with my novel, fills me with guilt. Needless to say, it ain’t gonna happen by the 3rd of September like it so boldly states. Back in January when I decided upon that arbitrary date, it seemed a plausible enough deadline. Now that it is halfway through the summer, I can see it is a fool’s game and I am the fool.

The truth is, I really do want to finish my novel. I simply have lost my way, can’t find the map, misplaced the car keys, forgot just how to get there from here. I need a guide, an Athena to come in some guise to help me as she helped Odysseus to find his way home again, finally. Virginia Woolf I am not, but neither I am under any illusions about it. I simply want to finish it and have some marvelous editor help me edit it, then have some wonderfully humane and helpful publisher love it and want to publish it. Honestly, is that so much to ask?

P.S. Here is a blurb from a book that a friend recommends to me from Amazon, of course: Written by experts with thirteen books between them as well as many years’ experience as a literary agent and a book doctor, this nuts-and-bolts guide demystifies every step of the publishing process: how to come up with a blockbuster title, create a selling proposal, find the right agent, understand a book contract, develop marketing and publicity savvy, and, if necessary, self-publish. There’s new information on how to build up a following (and even publish a book) online; the importance of a search-engine-friendly title; producing a video book trailer; and e-book pricing and royalties. Honestly, when did being a writer equal becoming a marketing expert and salesperson? Did J.K. Rowling have to go through all this after she was discovered in the laundrymat? And just what exactly is a ‘book doctor’ anyway? Is it the publishing world’s version of a spin-doctor? Oh what has the world come to, doctors spinning hype on books that may or may not even be worth all that hyperbole just to make a few lousy bucks? Forget the Critical Voice, she has been replaced by Mr. Cynical!

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Author: SingingBones

When we sing over the bones, we are calling the wild nature, the instinctive soul back, singing it alive again. To live with our wildness intact, is the greatest gift a woman can give herself. "It is the holy poetry and singing we are after." C.P. Estes

14 thoughts on “Confessions of a would-be novelist

  1. Thanks for the Pingback hon 🙂

    Xx

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  2. Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard! Which is so hard to do. You have to want it. Really, really want it. Like oxygen. And the Doubt Monster will try to creep in, so fortify yourself. But if you try, you can do it.
    Thanks for the pingback. Keep writing!

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  3. Athena to your rescue (in the guise of David Banner)! When you finish, I have the perfect editor for your book (Loma) and when she is done, I can get it published with my publisher, Loving Healing Press.. who published FRAMESHIFTING; A PATH TO WHOLENESS in 2008………what else do you need???(smile)

    Now, you have NO excuse!!!!!(double smile)

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  4. Did you write this just for me? Sure feels like it, I’ve been working on a story for over 3 years now and my first draft isnt complete. I decided to break from it – more like my day job decided for me, but it doesn’t make me happy. I want to write so many things, I feel like I have writters ADD and don’t know where and what to do most of the time. If you have that path, take it make it your own. Own your success of finishing in September! Passing that finish line has got to be so fulfilling and maybe in the next year I can pop the cork myself and enjoy that celebration 🙂

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    • Hi Cassie, thanks for your comments and empathy! You say your day job doesn’t make you happy. How many of us could echo your lament? So I will encourage you in turn: we can both do this, finish writing the story which lives inside of us, and fight all the distractions and lassitude of our souls, then next year in 2013 we can BOTH pop the cork and celebrate! I will hold onto this image of us…… thanks.

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  5. Singingbones,
    You have such a lovely tone when you write. You can do it! Don’t pay attention to those discouraging thoughts that crop up. Those blocks aren’t for someone like you to stop at but to get past them. They will make your success all the sweeter. Revisit the reason why you want to write this novel and add something to the importance you have placed on it. I am sorry I have no experience with writing to help you with, however I have had many other creative mediums. One of the things I have done to help projects flow, is to build related satellite projects, supportive frames, jigs, diagrams, and even tools. I would create things which don’t belong in the finished piece but which really open up the excitement and feeling for the project. Remember, the joy is in the journey! Good luck! Strengthfinder

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    • Strengthfinder, What lovely words you have given me today! Thank you so much for your encouragement. Your advice is wise, and I am curious as to what supportive frames and jigs are…. but anyway I understand what you are getting at, and it makes sense! It gives me inspiration to create a collage for my novel, and have it near my writing desk so I can visualize the finished, published book! Thanks for reading and for the support! SB

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  6. Plug away and don’t expend energy on the business end of publishing until you have written what you want to say.

    Inner critic can be helpful LATER, when you analyze and tweak what you’ve written. For now, tell her to hold her horses (her turn will come). I find that’s easier than trying to shut her up/tune her out.

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  7. Pingback: Inspiring? Moi? | The View Outside

  8. A twist on your own words here ‘On a good day rise high enough to see the clear sky and see it through.’ You can do this! Your post is all too familiar. I was so paralyzed by the fear of writing & self-publishing my 1st novel to the point I could not write and all I could do was stare painfully and longingly at my ms as it grew into a hotel for dust mites. What worked for me, was visiting other blogs (several) of aspiring to successful authors,writing in my journal (not much came out of that because I was sick over not being able to complete my novel and did not wish to write out the truth) Then I started reading over small notes, you know which ones I mean,the 100’s most writers have that go to the novel when our idea first burst inside our heads. Those notes led to re-reading page one of chapter 1 and gradually over days,weeks, months, pages 2, 3, 4…followed. I kid you not, it took its time. Eventually, my muse and miniscule confidence in writing crept back. I took a deep breath, smiled again and leaped. Am I still afraid with a 2nd novel coming out? Yes! But, this time, the fear monster only held me captive for 30 days. The timeframe dropped considerably. Don’t put out the fire burning inside you,meditate,pick up one of those notes,pick up a page, see your characters in your head,talk out loud to one or 2 of them,shed a tear…hell shed a few. No one’s watching but you. Set pen to paper,fingers to keyboard and find that beautiful muse inside you once again. I believe in you and know you will have a break through to get your novel completed.

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    • Dear Amber Dane,
      I was blown away by your thoughts and wonderful story of your own writing process this mornng. THANK YOU for taking the time to write these words to me at the precise moment I need them. I have been thinking (not writing more nor editing) non-stop about my novel– part of me wants to trash the whole thing and simply start over (or maybe not) but another voice says, Abide. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, find what is good and work with that, now just do MORE… way more. What a process, I could not have imagined really how much work writing a good story actually is. Slowly, in baby steps, I am learning. Your words mean a lot to me, I will come back to them again and again over the next months as I attempt to edit and finish this story…. I really think it is a good one. Thanks again, SB

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