Me and Mr G…and Voodoo Dolls

25 Apr

In the past year I have been in the privileged position to work closely with a writer whilst he wrote his entire first novel.

From the first chapter, i provided feedback on plot, characterisation, language, continuity…proofreading. Not your typical way of doing things, but that is what we did. Last month, I received the final installment of this first draft. Much to both mine and the writers surprise, the word count exceeded 137,000 words.

Why am I telling you this?

Well obviously once this novel has gone through the full editing procedure it will be the bestseller of our time. It will rival the sales of Harry Potter, its series will be found in libraries in hundreds of years, hailed as a classic.

No not quite (although it is quite brilliant). This journey I have been part of has taught me a lot about dedication, commitment, and being in the real world as a writer.

You see, me and my writer friend, lets call him Mr G (ha) started our ‘writing careers’ at the same time. Where as I have embraced blogging and networking, Mr G has continued with his commitments away from writing, held down a part time job, and has just been accepted on a post graduate degree programme in creative writing.  Mr G does not have a family to care for, the need to work full time, the desire to have a career today as the years are passing by quickly. Other than wanting to write, mine and Mr G’s lives are very different.

So, what I did find surprising then, was that Mr G, with what to me seems like an eternity of time, did not write to a daily word count, did not measure his success on how much was achieved in an overall time scale, did not, well did not have any rules.

Mr G would take a couple of months off, then he would churn out multiple chapters on a daily basis. Mr G in September told me that he had to continue, he had got so far after all, and then didn’t produce anything until January. Mr G did not beat himself up.

Whats my point? Well, I have been pondering this whole blogging malarkey. I know, FACT, I don’t write like I should as I write my blog post when I get time. I also know, FACT, it is blogging that spurs me on. remember No Way Out, well nothing kills me more than knowing I haven’t written the next installment, eventually the guilt becomes such that I find some drive.

This is not a post of oh I have no motivation, oh I will write soon, whats the world coming to, not at all. This post is about embracing the diversity of our own approaches, to do things our way. We shouldn’t feel guilty for not writing. We should feel smug if we manage to churn out 5,000 words in one day. We should just feel how we feel, and not allow the pressures of the blogging community/twitter etc to make us feel we are doing something wrong. we should be pleased for fellow writers when they achieve something, not secretly stab pins in the makeshift dolls we have sat on the shelf above our computers….oh just me?!

(If you were the blogger last week chatting about writing goals give me the heads up – I wanted to include a link but can’t find you!!!)

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3 Responses to “Me and Mr G…and Voodoo Dolls”

  1. submeg April 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm #

    I will get there in the end. I have started. I want to finish. How long it takes me to get there? Who knows.

  2. Candice L Davis April 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    I have two friends (former workshop mates) who have each taken over eight years to complete their first novels. (And yes, they write consistently.) Frankly, they have no intention of making a sustainable income from writing. They’ll write other novels, but writing for them is a passion project. In all that time, neither of them ever gave up on their work–none of that hopping from story idea to story idea. And they’ve both completed their manuscripts.

    The big determining factor for me is what I ultimately want to get out of this whole writing game. Sadly, publishing one work every decade or so won’t get me there. Different strokes.

    • Ellie April 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      Hi Candice, absolutely what YOU want will be the drive behind your commitment. What my point was, is even if you really want the big money publishing deal, you shouldnt then take on the pressure from others around you. It is up to you to set your pace – after all, if you feel you have to churn out 1000 words a day, and attempt to do so, the chances are your writing will not be at its best, and you will end up resenting the whole process.

      If you have set your writing goal of 1000 words a day, and you are comfortable with your commitment, then do it.

      Writing a full first draft of your first novel in a year, to me, is a reasonable expectation. Mr G managed this with long gaps inbetween, writing as and when the desire was there, and the plot pushed him on.

      Blogging is my time sapper, as at best i can currently commit and hour and a half each day to writing. By the time I have written my blog, read others, and as a whole attempted to do this ‘netwroking side’ I am left with little time for the real writing. Quite obviously at this time I should walk away from the blog, but then I know how important this is for accomplishing that all important publishing deal…a dilemma. And the truth is, although there is no publishing deal without the content, I love blogging.

      I absolutely admire and respect every writer that continues to commit a regular time to writing, to blogging to networking, and to everything else in their lives. I am sure each and every one however has had to make a sacrifice somewhere along the lines, I wonder at what stage they made that decision, and which part of thier lives was negotiated.

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