Sunday, 3 June 2007

Novel Progress - ploughing on...

Thanks for the words of encouragement in response to my previous post, guys. The wibble isn't over and I'm trying to write through it though my heart really isn't in it at the moment. I suppose the nearer I get to the end of the book the more my worries about agents and publication and reviews rise to the surface. When the book is finished I'll have to deal with those fears and, subconsciously, my writing is probably slowing down so I can delay finishing it. I need to get the "I'm just writing this for me" mindset back so I can quash all the horrible "what ifs" I keep thinking about.

They say two of the biggest causes of writers' block are fear of success (ha, right!) and fear of failure. I'm definitely in the latter camp. I've wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember and I'm scared that, although I've put my heart and soul into this novel (and four months of my life by the time I finish the first draft) I (or my novel) might not be good enough.

It's strange really because I've encountered a fair few rejections in my short story writing endeavours (and a few successes too) but you don't invest so much of yourself (or your time) into a short story. If it doesn't work it doesn't really matter because you only spent an hour, three hours, a day, whatever, working on the story and there is always another one waiting to be written (quickly). I've put so much of myself into this novel and the characters and I think it would be awful if I had to lock them away in a drawer at the end of all this and they never got the chance to 'live' on bookshelves and in other people's minds. The thought of starting all over again with a new novel just fills me with dread!

I know this is all horribly pessimistic (I haven't even finished the damned thing yet) but I am more of a glass half empty type of person rather than a glass half full so it's to be expected really.

Anyway, I just wrote 968 words so the novel word count has gone up. I need to push through this and keep writing every day.

I've been thinking about what I'll do when I've finished the second draft. Do I try and recruit people to read the novel or do I bite the bullet and get a professional critique? Jacqui Bennett's Writing Bureau does a critique service for novels under 100,000 words for £135 (they only critique the plot and characters - it costs more to get grammar, presentation and spelling checked) and I'm seriously considering that.

No writing yesterday. I thought I'd give myself the day off instead. In the afternoon I watched Pan's Labyrinth .

I'd heard great things about it but had no idea what to expect. Actually, I thought it was going to be child's fairy tale with lots of animation so wasn't expecting anything too deep or moving. I was so wrong. The film is rate 15 and there's some really quite shocking violence in it but the story was incredible - it really sucked me in - and the little girl who played the main character was amazing. It's on my Amazon wish list now and I really recommend it.

Yesterday evening I went to the "Comedy Carnival" in Clapham Junction. We wanted to go to the Comedy Store or Jongleurs but they were both sold out so we plumped for the Comedy Carnival instead (although neither of us had been there before). First impressions were terrible - it was held in the 'Wessex' club which was probably the cheesiest club I've ever been into (and I've been to some really cheesy clubs in my time). It was dimly lit and they were playing the worse music in the world (house) and there was hardly anyone in the bar half of the club. We bought our drinks anyway and made our way in the the other half of the club (where the comedy was). I strode towards the door and promptly tripped over a crutch that was sticking out from someone's table. I lunged forward, grabbed hold of a random girl who was coming out of the door and spilled most of my drink onto the floor. That was my comedy moment of the night.

To make matters worse I discovered that my stumble had snapped one of the leather thongs of my new sandals. The guy whose crutch it was didn't even apologise - he just looked up blankly as though it was my fault.

I wasn't in a great mood when I limped towards our seats (chairs lined up in semi-circles like some kind of school assembly) and waiting for the comedians to come onto the (tiny) stage. Fortunately things got better from there on. The first comedian was okay although his Tommy Cooper (who I loved) style jokes fell a bit flat and the pacing was incredibly slow but the second and third comedians were much better (even my companion - who is renowned for comments like 'female comedians are crap' - had to concede that the last act was pretty funny - and he laughed loudly when she read from a 1950's book on 'how to be a perfect housewife' and advised women to only speak to men when they had 'something interesting to say'). Don't worry - I did punch him on the arm.

All in all it wasn't a bad night but I wouldn't recommend the Comedy Carnival. The decor was all wrong, the music was terrible, the seating arrangement was tacky and the crowd was so small that the atmosphere was a bit thin. For a really good night out I recommend the Komedia in Brighton. It's been a brilliant night out every time I've been.


SallyQ said...

Cally, have you read Jane Wenham-Jones 'wannabe a writer?' yet? That gives loads of advice and Jane talks about what she went through to get published. She's very down to earth. There's a link from my blog or you can just do an amazon search.

To be honest, it wouldn't occur to me to pay for a critique for my novel. I wanted to trust my own instincts. That probably means it won't get anywhere ;-)If you feel a critique would help, go for it, but only take the advice you agree with, and trust yourself to be right about the important things.

A. Writer said...

Oh dear, sorry to hear you are still having wibbles. The things you said in the post certainly hit home for me too.

Rejection and failure is something I think about regularly. There's a company up here where I would LOVE to get a job and I've applied to them 15/16 times-I've been rejected all but once where I managed to get as far as two interviews. I'm used to rejection and like you, I've invested a lot of blood, sweat and tears into my novel, can I cope with any rejection with that too?

I just have to tell myself that it might not happen but I have to have some hope or what is the point?

If you do decide to send your novel to people to read, I'll read it if you want. I'd read it purely as a chick lit/women's fiction fan. I'm not so hot on the grammer and spelling but I love reading so I'd give it a go and tell you honestly what I think.

I wish all your wibbles away!

CTaylor said...

a.writer - good on you for not giving up on that company. That's what I call determination! Did they give you any feedback post interview that will help you make your application stronger the next time you apply? Perhaps there's some training you could do to get more experience or increase your skills set?

And thanks so much for your offer to read my novel when I've finished the second draft. I may just take you up on that!

Sally - No, I haven't read that yet though it's definitely on my 'to buy' list. In fact, I might see if they've got it in Books etc when I go out later.

I know what you mean about a critique. It wasn't something I thought I'd need but then I started thinking about how you only have one opportunity to impress an agent so it makes sense to make the novel as good as it can before before it gets to them (because you're unlikely to get a second chance). I know lots of authors don't bother with critiques but I'm a little nervous about my novel as it requires such a suspension of disbelief that I need to make sure it works before sending it out. That said a.writer looks like she'll be my first guinea pig!

A. Writer said...

Nope, no feedback from the company whatsoever.
I've done 4 years of training as it is.
The company is like Fort Knox. Been told twice (by various people outwith the company) that to get into the company it's best to be a member of the female version of the Masons!

I don't mind being your first guinea pig! I think your novel sounds like my kind of book! :D