A Novel Idea

Posts Tagged ‘Novel

2011 is the year I will land a generous contract for my first novel. It is the year I will complete my Masters. On a personal level, it is the year I will marry the love of my life.

These are my goals for this year. What are yours?

On New Year’s Eve 2009, I was in Paris. The goals I made then did not anticipate the upheavel and the opportunity that 2010 would bring. This time last year, I did not realize I would be writing and studying full time after abandoning a successful but unsatisfying corporate career.

We cannot know what lies ahead, but we can know what lies in our hearts and act accordingly.

My biggest lesson from 2010 was to trust in love. Sometimes your own steam will only take you partway up the mountain. A supportive life partner, who values your dreams as much as their own, can provide the encouragement that inspires you to find the last skerrick of determination you need to approach the summit.

Look at the relationships in your life. Are some in need of repair? Are some better left in the past?

If your art is your life, the people closest to you need to support your path.

Write well. Write often.


(C) Copyright of the author. 2011.

This morning I woke fired up. Well that’s not strictly true, I woke up slowly (having enjoyed a lovely glass or two of red with my partner last night). But once cognition kicked in, I felt marvellous. Why? Because today is a day of writing for me.

I’m studying and writing my first novel this year. Last week saw the final essay of the semester submitted, so I’m a free woman.

I may not be earning an income right now, but I’m learning my trade.

After the rounds of breakfast, bathing, news and email the day was clear.

A lot of published authors caution ‘Don’t give up your day job’, and while I am cautious in some respects, I knew this advice didn’t fit me. In my early posts I talked about trying to string sentences together in the wee hours before and after a demanding day of work. It was driving me nuts. Like someone only letting you eat one M&M a day. I want a bulging handful – if not the whole packet!

So I’m sitting at my computer this morning with a mission. My novel draft is resting till next week. This week I have decided to write one short story every day and then submit them all to competitions or for publication.

Working away and then BRRR, BRRR, BRRR as my phone almost vibrates off the shelf. I’ve blogged before about my strict no interruptions policy. But it’s my Dad. I’m always going to take his call. It must be urgent – he knows the policy. I just saw him a couple of days ago so he couldn’t be missing me already surely?

Everything OK?

Yes, just wanted to talk to my darling.

Thanks Dad, but I’m just in the middle of writing…

That’s good dear … [tells me about painting the house, mangoes are in season, but does not pick up on the not so subtle nod towards THE NO INTERRUPTIONS UNLESS IT’S URGENT & IMPORTANT POLICY]

…Dad – can I call you later, I’m midstream on my writing. This is my work day remember.

On that darling. I was thinking. Maybe you should get a part-time job.


Just part-time-

We’ve discussed this. The whole point of me quitting my job was so I could finally write my novel.

Yes, but a job would get you out and about…

(I back out of the conversation – We’ll discuss this later – tell him I love him – which I of course do – but I’m irritated)

Whenever I find myself less than angelic towards either of my parents I always feel quite guilty. They love me and have supported me and almost always been 100% behind what I wanted to be or do.

I felt irritated that my perfect writing mind had been jolted into a reminder of how hard things are financially. I felt irritated that six months into this escapade it sounds like my father is losing his nerve with respect to his daughter’s ability to eventually turn a profit from her new career.

I know he is only ever well intentioned towards me.

I don’t think anyone but other writers can understand how dark and desperate some moments are in that pre-published stage.

I stomp on the little voice that whispers doubts.

I turn up the volume on anything that makes me feel a little closer to my goal.

I have to.

There is only one thing worse than failing and that is not daring in the first place.

How do you cope with the good intentioned opinions of others?

Excuse me – I have a short story to create…

Write well. Write often.


(C) Copyright of the author. 2010.

Today is Melbourne Cup day, known in Australia as the horse race ‘that stops the nation’. This prestigious race is a long one – similar to the Ascot Gold Cup, the Gold Cup at York, or the Prix Du Cadran in France. Racing has a lot in common with publishing. Both are pursuits that draw crowds for the short-lived public performance but involve a lot of hard work in the much longer lead up.

I set out on a personal challenge to be published within a year six months ago. I, like many of the horses competing today, have travelled a long way to get trackside. I’m not getting pre-race jitters, but I am starting to see that the finish line may be much further away than I first anticipated.

Pictured: Sub-zero, the 1992 winner (about the time I started watching every cup race).

Image courtesy of http://www.news.com.au/national/melbourne-cup-winner-subzero-facing-customs-red-tape-death-sentence/story-e6frfkvr-1225784048987

The recorded fastest time to date for a Melbourne Cup winner was Kingston Rule with a time of 3.16.30 back in 1990.

Thinking about racing and more specifically, racing preparation has coincided with my decision to modify my original goal. I’ve come to realize that most books take a year to print even once the writer has delivered the drafted manuscript. Without self-publishing, or already having a polished manuscript up my sleeve, it is totally unrealistic to think (without even a contract) I could pull off zero to published in one short year.

I’ve been trying to gallop whereas my current form dictates I should ease into a canter.

I still think it is crucial to set goals (ones that stretch rather than knacker you). Here’s the new goal:

I will publish my first novel by midnight 19 April, 2013. [within 3 years of setting the first word of the novel down]

And, to make this first year really count, by midnight 19 April, 2011, I will send the latest draft of the novel TO A PUBLISHER.

Write well. Write often.


(C) Copyright of the author. 2010.

If my library of books shared any of its owner’s innate impatience, I’d have a riot on my hands.

That book I bought last year in my King Arthur phase would be commanding READ ME, the slender champagne history would be sashaying onto someone else’s shelf and that great Australian novel would have galloped off into the outback.

I acquire books faster than I can read them. Much faster.

What do you consider a reasonable number of books to own?

As we are only three months away from year end, I thought I’d take stock. How much have I read this year?

Actually, this post was inspired by a less organised mentality. After mopping the floors today (yuck – I’m only doing it because we have our third dinner guest of the year this weekend – entertaining takes a nose dive on one income), I was horrified at the amount of dust gathering on my precious books. That led to a bookshelf tidy, which led to a desire to tally my reading achievements this year to date.

Novels READ: 10 (including 3 borrowed)

Novels reread: 1

Novels STARTED but NOT FINISHED: 13 (which I estimate equates to 5 novels read judging by thickness)

Total Novels READ: 16

Total short stories READ: Countless (20+)

Total Academic essays, Non-fiction and trade magazines READ: Countless (50+)

Total Picture Books READ: 4 (including 1 reread of an old favourite) 

That’s a lot of reading! I’m not even counting workshopping other writer’s work, the Saturday paper or online reading.

Before you pat me on the back, consider this.

Novels UNREAD and bought this year: 15 (clearly I think I can read novels twice as fast as I actually can)

Short story collections UNREAD and bought this year: 10

Nonfiction UNREAD and bought this year: 1

Here are some books which have been waiting years for me to get to:

I am grateful for the patience of pages. No person would put up with being ignored for so long.

How much have you read this year?

Read well. Read often.


(C) Copyright of the author. 2010.

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  • Comments Off on Poll: Henry James Favourite Novel

I was going to title this post ‘My First Rejection’, but that is inaccurate. Both in the context of my writing career and my wider life experiences to date.

I’ve been rejected before – just not as a ‘serious’ writer.

Significant Rejection #1: Being dumped. Ouch.

This is something we can all relate to (if we’ve entered the murky world of human relationships where love and/or lust are involved). I actually do alright on this scale. I’ve only been dumped twice. Both times for the same offence: not sleeping with the adolescent male who, in hindsight, was probably a poor choice of boyfriend anyway. Not that I’m bitter about being dumped. After a few sobs into my single bedcover I got over them. I still remember the two infamous moments in burning detail though.

Significant Rejection #2: ?

There hasn’t really been one. Worthy of the qualifier that is.

I’ve made my own luck in life. I’ve worked really hard. Eventually you get rewarded.

Sure, there are jobs I’ve gone for and not landed. I can count those on my hands. Generally I was considered inexperienced (the PC way of saying ‘too young – get back in your box you little upstart’) but capable.

Then there have been minor snubs along the lines of shop assistants not greeting you (even though you’ve been in the store well past the reasonable period of time in which you should be acknowledged). This is generally because I will walk into a store in whatever I’m wearing (which is usually something comfortable). I dress up for people I care about, I don’t dress up for shop assistants. Why should I make it easy for you to gauge my wallet depth?

I’ve known hardship. We all have. Just on varying scales.

Rejection is a separate concept.

The one thing I do care about – passionately – (family and dear friends aside) is my writing.

If you’ve been following my solipsistic blog, or have read the early posts, you’ll know I’m heaven-bent on becoming a published author.

So we come to the topic of disappointment.

In my eagerness I sent the first three chapters of my novel into a competition. The winner of the competition will have access to the senior editor at a well known publishing house. All you had to do was be unpublished in the genre you were submitting for and be better then the hundreds of other entrants. You also had to have the full novel ready to deliver when selected.

I found out about this competition when there was just over a month left to the closing date. I had nothing to submit, but it sparked a strong desire in me. A desire so strong that I quit my job in order to manage the feat of writing three terrific chapters in the space of one month.

I succeeded. I took an idea I’d been pondering and banged out the first five chapters inside a month. I submitted.

The entries were not going directly to the publisher. The writing centre which organised the competition had a manuscript assessor on hand to vet the submissions.

Two weeks ago I found out that my three chapters did not even make the short list that the publisher screened. I did not rate a mention.

I was not bereft, but I was disappointed.

Egotistically, I was even a little shocked.

How do you deal with disappointment?

Connor surprised me with champagne the night of the announcement. This is a guy who gave up buying lunch (and many other things that you can’t afford on one income). I almost cried.

What was I thinking?  

He insisted we celebrate.

Two weeks later, I can see he was right. I may not have won this time, but I’m on the path.

I do wish I could ask the manuscript assessor why I didn’t make the cut. Googling the winner I can see they have prior form in another genre. That makes me feel better, but I don’t just want to feel better. I want to be better.

I have no regrets about launching boldly in the direction of my dream.

I have time now. Time to make this novel the best I am capable of crafting.

And the good news is – technically I haven’t been rejected – the publisher never got the chance!

Write well. Write often.


(C) Copyright of the author. 2010.

In one week’s time I intend to be finished with the second draft (I’m giving myself a month per draft now). Yet today I’m working on chapter six of what is currently a sixteen chapter novel. I only have two more full days between now and my deadline (due to other commitments), so I need to pick up the pace.

Strangely the writing itself is very pacy – almost too pacy. I am currently obsessed with dialogue as a vehicle for expressing character and action. I actually need to go back and stick in the slow atmospheric stuff.

Do you find your writing process morphing with each draft?

Do you have a natural tendency for description over dialogue or vice versa?

Onwards writing chariot…

Picture courtesy of http://www.astor-theatre.com/images/images-ben-hur.html

Write well. Write often.


(C) Copyright of the author. 2010.

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  • Violet: Thanks Alannah :) Apologies for not replying sooner: I'm finally catching my breath and the year is almost over!
  • Alannah Murphy: I remember your first post, way back when I had my old Here Be Dragons blog, and I am glad you are still writing. We all find out, sooner or later, ho
  • Violet: Good to hear that Aaron. Good Luck with your work.