Taking the Plunge!

50, 000 words, it said. In a month. FIFTY THOUSAND? I'd never do it. 
How's that for a positive start?  
That was 2014 - and how I became a writer.  I can say - 'I'm a Writer' now, with a big dollop of humility - because...drum-roll please - I have completed my first novel! All thanks to http://nanowrimo.org/ and that challenge to write 50, 000 words in 30 days. 

 The story idea had been germinating in my head for more than a year, and I knew I wanted to write it, but I didn't have the faintest idea how to even begin. When Facebook pointed me at a new and local Writing Group, I took it as a sign. 
Writing at least 2000 words a night, I read books about how to write, wrote character bibles, learned about arcs and structure and was mentored by a local author. I knew my characters better than I knew my friends. That wasn't difficult - I never saw my friends, I was too busy writing!
Beside my bed is a teetering pile of notebooks, each with their own pen. In the night, my hand can locate a book, open it to a blank page thanks to the ribbon bookmark, and I can jot down those flashes of genius you only get just as you fall asleep or wake during the night. 
I can't always decipher them the next morning, but those imperfect scrawls are usually enough to remind me.
 It took me a year to finish the actual novel. What an incredible journey. I should have felt ecstatic - instead I felt, well, rather sad.  Sad to be saying goodbye to characters who'd become real to me. 
They wrote their own dialogue, made jokes, and did surprising things I hadn't planned for them.  And if that sounds weird, let me tell you, seeing it happen on the page is even weirder. 

I gave it a few weeks and then began the editing process; 'Killing your Darlings' as it's called 'in the trade' (do I sounds like a proper writer now?). Its next date was The Romantic Novelist's Association New Writer Scheme, where it goes for a full assessment of structure, story-line, characterisation, dialogue, the lot. 
Off it went, 103,000 words worth of hopes and dreams, and I sat back to wait. 
Well, I didn't sit back at all, really.  I couldn't stop writing. 
So I began work on a standalone sequel, bringing two minor characters centre stage and allowing the main characters to progress their lives in the background. It's incredibly exciting to discover what makes these new people tick, how they respond, feel, talk.  

While I wrestled to produce a first chapter I actually liked, the assessment returned from the RNA.  I'm nothing if not a realist.
 I'm a novice writer - I knew it wasn't going to be perfect. 
 I expected advice like: Get rid/Cut this/Weak/Sloppy/Self-indulgent, etc etc. 

What I wasn't expecting was: 'Fabulous story, loved it, shouted at screen. Great cast of characters, believable dialogue. Almost ready to be sent to agents/publishers.' 

Whoh!!! Cue much jigging round kitchen with bemused looking dog.

There were some line edits, sloppy punctuation and typos to be attended to and I tackled those during the following week, also tightening up my prose  and eliminating where possible the dreaded adverb.
I was sent a list of RNA-friendly agents, and I've begun to send my first three chapters out. 
It took me a further week to sort out how they wanted them - some are paper only, some want a cv, some a blurb, and I've probably done them all wrong. 
I've had one rejection so far, very politely worded.  

I'm beginning to feel like a real writer now. 
 


Comments

  1. Congratulations, Sue. Welcome to blogging! It was good to meet you at that initial writing group meeting and find we were both entering NaNoWriMo for the first time. Good luck with finding an agent and publisher. I look forward to hearing all about novel number two. ��

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  2. Thanks Jan! think I need some tips about making my blog interesting. It looks a bit bald compared to yours :) x

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  3. I'm not in the least surprised to see you've thrown yourself into writing with the same joie de vivre that you've undertaken everything else in life. Love it, Sue. Looking forward to seeing you in print soon! Tel x

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  4. Thanks Terry!
    Fingers crossed :) xx

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