I’m coming out of the closet and admitting my secret. I’m trying to write a novel. I find that a bit embarrassing to admit. It’s what deluded people often say. For some strange reason everyone seems to think that they can write a novel and it will be really easy. I don’t think that at all. I think it will definitely be a labour of love. People say that everyone has a novel in them. I’m not sure that they do and if they do, then a lot of people’s would be horribly dull.
There are a few barriers in the way and the biggest one is my self confidence. In spite of having had a few articles, flash fictions and stories published, lots of objective praise and constructive criticism and winning a few competition prizes, I still struggle to believe that I can write. It seems a conceited thing to think. It’s a clichéd English trait to be self denigrating and embarrassed if we have any talents. I’m very good at that. I sometimes wonder what it would take to make me actually believe that I can write. If I won the Booker Prize, I’d be saying: “Well, it wasn’t the Pulitzer.” If I won the Pulitzer I’d say “Well, it wasn’t the Nobel Prize for literature.” If I won the Nobel, I’d claim it was a fluke.
I think I’ve done my ground work. I’ve been on a few writing courses which helped furnish me with techniques to cope with my confidence ebbs and flows and hone some skills. I’ve seen enough writers talk about their work, spoken to a good few writers, read books about writing and I’ve read thousands of novels. I still read a couple of novels a week. Reading is the only way I really relax. I can’t get enough of it. This can cause problems. I write some prose then settle down afterwards and read. I leaf through a Helen Dunmore, Jennifer Egan or an Ann Patchett and wonder how I could ever construct such magnificent sentences. I then remind myself that these are major prize winners and giants in the fiction writing world. Maybe I should be reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” or “The DaVinci Code” to remind myself that terrible writing styles sell books too. I’m pretty sure that that would depress me though.
I’m under no illusions that writing will make me rich or famous and I’m not sure that being rich and famous is so fantastic anyway. I’m always careful what I hope for. There’s an old Chinese curse which says that “May you get what you wish for.” I’m writing the novel because I want to and because I’m enjoying what I do mostly.
Just keep me away from the internet, the delete button and keep my bad neck at bay and I’ll be fine. I hope to keep up some blogging too and not be too shabby with my posts on here. I’ll keep you updated.
I won’t give too much away about what the novel is about but my motivation in writing it is to examine how people get from A to B (or more colloquially, what makes us become such fuck ups). The main character is a nurse who struggles to connect with people outside of work. Before you ask, that isn’t me and no, you’re not in the book either. Sorry to disappoint but the only living thing in my book who is taken from real life is the cat which lives next door to Paul. She’s getting a star cameo.