Wednesday, 17 February 2016

What it's like writing a novel at 21.

This blog post has been created to serve two purposes.

1. To give a bit of an insight into what it's been like writing something as large and complex as a novel at the tender age of 21. An age in the writing world that means I am practically a foetus.
2.  Gives me the perfect excuse to take a break from uni and novel work as I trudge through it in the university library.


For the majority of those who know me, you will know that since May last year I have been writing a novel for someone else. A ghostwriter if you so wish. However, I have far more of an active role in plot and actual communication of plot than the conventional ghostwriter. I am in essence the 'chief writer' of a project that will end up with a fully working, hopefully publishable novel.

If you are a writer or a reader you will understand that a novel is not a small thing. It is a large, sometimes extremely complex work of prose that has not only taken an enormous amount of imagination but a mind boggling amount of time too.

As a writer, I like to consider myself one anyways, the novel is the most difficult thing to get absolutely right- this is debatable however. In my eyes the novel is the forefront of writing and the most influential weapon in a writer's arsenal to show intelligence, talent and skill. Nothing requires more grit, determination, blood, sweat and tears than a 70,000+ worded piece with every word being considered.

So what's it like to write one at the age of 21?

Well some of you reading this might think, what's the difference between writing a novel at 21 or 61?

A fair question but one that has a rather basic answer.

Lack of experience. This being in both reading and writing.

Of course I've read plenty of novels but unfortunately I have not had the same amount of time to read as many as a 61 year old. To be a successful writer you need to have a read a vast amount of books to both appreciate the good stuff and be aware of the bad stuff.

Another point is that a 61 year old has had the time to write a considerably higher amount of work than myself.

I've written short stories, blog posts, a script, part of a screenplay etc. But this amounts to nothing if I have not written a gargantuan amount. The ONLY way of improving as a writer is by writing. Simple as that.

So when I went into this project I certainly felt an air of pessimism around me, as if the world was quietly reminding me that I am not quite ready for something as large as this, especially as I am in third year of university too- a bleak and rather vile period of life at times.

But as I finish up chapter 14/20 and the end comes into sight over the horizon, I feel quite pleased at how it has gone.

Obviously I am aware that there is fair amount to go but I am very pleased with how it has gone so far.

The biggest thing I've learned is that it IS possible to write something this large. All it takes is a little perseverance and a lot of patience.

There have been times when I've sent my work off to get reviewed by the 'rights owner' and he has come back and said in polite terms that it is not what he wants.

Now you could argue that if he didn't get what he wanted then he should have done it himself but you need to respect that he is the one who is demanding a level of quality and is only pushing you to get better.

The biggest and by far the best thing I have learnt is how to accept feedback and apply it. There is nothing worse than reading over the comments of your own work and finding out they didn't in fact think it was the work of genius that you thought it was. As soon as you learn that and even become able to critique your own work, you take a big step into becoming a better writer

Patience is another skill I've learned, or a virtue if you like.

Re-reading the same chapter 7-10 times is dreary, frustrating and takes you one step closer to absolute madness. But of course it is necessary. Without doing this you never iron out the spelling mistakes, plot errors or cumbersome passages of text. It is painful and does make you question whether you can actually do it but trust me, do it and you feel great for it. Don't and you might as well draw a big cock over your work.

I will, most likely, never read the novel from beginning to end, if it ever gets published that is. Simply because I don't think I could read something I wrote without feeling slightly embarrassed. The same way watching a video of yourself makes you cringe. This isn't to say that I don't think the novel will be a compelling read. Of course it will be. I've just read it about 300 times by the time it's finished. But to open and maybe read a passage every here or there would be quite a nice activity. Just because it will remind me of the pain and torture it was to create it but at the same time the pleasure and pride it was to do so too.

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