The Three Stages of Writing a Novel: Fear

open book on a desk


The Kiss of the Dead

Sorry to brag, and that’s not the way it’s intended.

But as anyone who regularly follows the Vultures will know, I’ve been persistently and consistently away without leave. So I don’t know what this entry will be about, other than the topic fat Jimmy gave me of ‘your experiences with your novel so far’ but as anyone who knows me well enough to get past the awkwardness will tell you: ‘He can rabbit about nothing forever!’

Now, writing a novel takes a lot of work, and finishing one – even more.

But I can tell you now that I have never felt such an equal mix of fear, elation, disappointment, and excitement, as I did on the day that I managed to complete a novel for the first time. Something so few people who try, manage.

The fear, knowing that in my present circumstance, now is the best chance I’ll ever have to get the thing published. That now is the only time I’ll have enough free time to actively pursue a career in writing… not an issue in itself, but with my innate misery and laziness combined? – let’s just say it compounds the problem. Then there’s the fact that the Witcher 3 has just been released, The Elder Scrolls Online is also close to release, and I’m ending each day, sat up in bed at night, thinking ‘Will it really be worth all the effort? Will it really be worth all of the disappointment and defeat to an already disappointed and defeated individual? Fuck it, I’ll just stick the Witcher on and drift away from the seriousness of it all.’

But will it be worth it?

The short answer is yes, the long answer; or to be clearer, the slightly longer answer… FUCK YES!

The way I look at it, J.K. Rowling was rejected by publishers a dozen times before somebody took an interest in Harry Potter. Okay, I’ll never even pretend I have as much confidence in my own story or ability, but the point that stands is even the most successful writers. The best writers or even the most technically excellent writers. None of them get it right first time, so why should I hold myself to that standard?

As it is I have already received my first rejection letter from A.M Heath and am expecting it to be the first of many to come, but as any musician knows, it just takes one person’s double take to start the career of someone who is by no means the best.

What will it turn me into though?

Well, I expect a gibbering wreck.

Again, as anyone who follows the vultures will know; after interviewing a man that I have since become proud to call both ‘the friend who finds me incessantly and repeatedly annoying’ and ‘the unwilling Mr. Miyagi-esque mentor’ he has since become a sporadic vulture himself. On occasion we receive utter gems from the man, when he is not busy tending to the constant needs of his menagerie of kinglings, or as he knows them, his children.

But if I think about the kind of conversations I have with Danny, and think over the things he has posted in his own Cultured Vultures posts, it becomes frightfully clear that it could turn me into the man that Danny is.

From where I sit, he is a successful man, and he certainly has everything that I think my life is lacking to help me find some form of happiness, a wife; children; house; that sort of thing. But Danny doesn’t strike me as a happy man, or more specifically, happy with his career.

Looking at this I can understand it, he once said something along the lines of ‘enjoy any success because it can and will dry up overnight’. And when looking at Danny’s career, I can wholly see his point.

He went from having eight conventionally published books, and a BBC TV show, to having – not nothing – but less, in a career sense.

That’s the way it can and does go for most people who are self employed I suppose, but are the good times worth the bad?

Danny certainly appears to be happy, or at least content. As the person and personality that I am, I couldn’t ask for anything more than that out of life, so as I said, I may be full of fear, but it could very well be worth it. And if it’s not… if an agent phones me up and tells me to burn my manuscript at once and never go back to it, then at least I tried. At least I achieved something with my time, instead of procrastination, masturbation, or any other form of failure. And that sense of achievement is surprisingly strong, surprisingly uplifting!

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