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I am Writing a Novel

June 26, 2010 1 comment

‘I am writing a novel’, if there is any one sentence to make people scoff extremely loudly, it’s that. So many people say they are writing a book, and are confident it will be an awards-sweeping, literary masterpiece which will adorn the coffee tables of homes the world over. The ‘writing’ part of the sentence could actually mean anything from ‘I’ve written 5,000 words’, to ‘I thought of maybe having an idea about a book once’. So many of these ideas go unrealised, either they’re never started, or people do and they quickly hit a wall, realise the size of what they are attempting, and give up.

So… I am writing a novel! I’m about 13,000 words in and up until now I’d wondered what all the fuss was about. I’d had a general idea for a story circling my head for roughly nine years now, constantly evolving and fleshing out. Being a film guy, I’d always wanted to write it as a screenplay. I’d never even thought about writing it as a book until a few months ago, when it dawned on me I had been putting it off (see other post about procrastination) because screenplays are so bloody fiddly to write. Everything has to be formatted to exact specifications. So I decided to write it in book format, to encourage me to actually frickin’ write something. Thankfully, once I started, it came to me fairly easy. As I was writing one thing, other ideas would come to mind automatically, and I got to 13,000 words relatively quickly for a first-timer, as far as I know anyway.

Unfortunately I then hit the wall. I realised my second act was virtually non-existent. I was running straight from the first act to the end, and I’d be finished by about 20,000 words. I’m only going to sell that to people with short attention spans, or perhaps only buy books as ‘toilet material’. Hey I’m not judging! Hitting that wall was gut-wrenching. I’d set my stall with this and naively thought I was well on my way to a number one bestseller! To all of a sudden come to a complete stop, and not be able to write a single word, was strange and made me understand why people would give up.

I’d made a deal with myself, that I would not scrap what I had written, no matter what. If I could wrestle what I had into some kind of first draft, then I could always edit. I’ve managed to stick with that deal, just, and thankfully I think I’ve worked out where to go with the story. I was being too stubborn with my original idea before, but this way seems to make more sense now. I hope.

I don’t know why I’ve decided to bore you with this, maybe now I’ve put my intentions in public, I will be less-inclined to let it become another unfulfilled ‘I am writing a novel’ story. WHEN I complete it, it may be worse than Michael Owen’s autobiography (Jesus, that should have only been bought as the other kind of toilet material) but at least it’ll be done. I’d feel immeasurably happier than never having tried.

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