A Novel Idea

Posts Tagged ‘Overcoming Obstacles

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Have you ever wanted someone else’s life?

Maybe you have coveted something they have.

Are you happy with your own life?

My life is good. My life is tough. My life has purpose.

I will morph that temporary middle statement into ‘My life is comfortable’ or better in the next year.

Here I am in 2011 after nine months of practically zero income, unable to afford a daily coffee, but smiling more easily than when I could buy a round of drinks without a thought.

I’m trading money for time. Time to write the first of many novels that will, I hope, form my life’s work.

I came to the realization today that, unintentionally, I’m making one of the people most special to me unhappy.

Like me, they dream of a creative life. Their talent is writing for film. Instead they work to feed their family and keep the people they employ in work. They can’t just alter life without massive consequences.

They aren’t envious of me. Not jealous. Neither of these words adequately describe the feeling I glimpsed in their eyes today.

They want what I have: time.

But it is not mine to give them.

Worse than that, I know and love their family. Their situation has options, but fewer than I had.

While I pursue creativity and career change, I have made mine and my partner’s financial situation worse. Perhaps I will never regain what I used to earn through writing alone, but I will certainly try.

Could I have made the same decision if I was robbing a child of the best school or even a new bicycle to do so?

Are you happy with your own life?

Do you covet something another person has?

Do you want someone else’s life?

Write well. Write often.


(C) Copyright of the author. 2011.

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.

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.

This week’s post is an attempt at being ‘cruel to be kind’. I read Ian Irvine’s ‘The Truth about Publishing’ earlier this year and found it brutally honest yet ultimately encouraging.

Make yourself a steaming cup of tea or coffee – then read this:


Harsh as it may sound, I agree with Ian that ‘Anyone who can be discouraged from writing should be’.

What do you think?

Write well. Write often.


(C) Copyright of the author. 2010.

For me, there are two types of procrastination from writing: good or bad.

Bad procrastination includes any activity that not only detracts from your word count or the quality of your work, it actually makes you less likely to write that day.

Bad procrastination includes activities such as:

  • Housework
    One load of washing spirals into a spring cleaning epic. I’m too tuckered out to type afterwards.
  • Socialising (Virtual)
    A Facebook friend announces a birth, death or marriage. I’m obliged to congratulate or condole accordingly.
  • Socialising (Actual)
    If my writing like a hermit hasn’t deterred a friend by now and I’m actually having a live, in-person conversation with them, they care enough to know that I am writing and will inevitably ask ‘so how’s the book going?’. If I’m socialising in writing time, I’m just going to feel bad about it.

Do you engage in bad procrastination?

Hamlet has long been identified as a literary procrastinator. I adore the play and am intrigued by the character. However I am aware that some audience members may have felt like hurling abuse along the lines of ‘Would you just GET ON WITH IT!’

Perhaps our family members also feel like saying this to us at times?

In the tradition of Shakespeare – an aside:

Here is Brendan Cowell, terrific Australian actor, as Hamlet in the Bell Shakespeare production last year. The performance I saw at the Sydney Opera House was the most enjoyable Hamlet I have seen to date.

Picture courtesy of http://www.theage.com.au/news/arts/wrestling-hamlet/2008/06/26/1214472670857.html

Slaying Claudius is akin to writing a novel. Not that writing is a murderous occupation, but it does involve pain and contemplation.

Good (or tolerable) procrastination may reduce your word count for the day, but it somehow helps in the overall journey to finishing the manuscript.

I’m putting off the rest of this post for now…

Write well. Write often.


(C) Copyright of the author. 2010.

I’m starting to feel a little lonely typing away all day.

I’ve been working for almost two months on my first draft of my first novel.

Today the words flowed well. So well in fact that I’ve had time to do a little self-indulgent web-browsing.

No I wasn’t on a dating site.

I’ve got the right man thing all sorted already.

I’ve been looking at potential pets.

As child I was constantly surrounded by cats, dogs and birds (until I started to open cages enabling their freedom).

As an adult I’ve always travelled too much every year to keep a demanding pet. Unfortunately they’re also the type that nuzzle you and make you seem like less of a loon for having a one way conversation with them.

I have managed to look after a fish.

Sadly my Siamese fighting fish of two years passed away just before Christmas. No other fighting fish looks as kooky and intelligent, so there’s no new pet fish.

Two years is terrible time period anyway. Long enough to form an attachment, short enough not to be able to countenance the idea of another fishy friend dying on you in two years’ time.

Now I’m home most of the time writing. It’s wonderful. It’s just really quiet.

I’m concerned that my collection of stuffed Tiggers in various sizes (which I’m trying to preserve for my child’s nursery, if I ever get around to that) is going to be pulled out of storage and dotted around the study to give the effect of company.

I want a pet. I need a pet.

Many writers have cats. Mark Twain loved them. He affectionately named one Satan. I’m not kidding.

2010 marks the 175th anniversary of Twain’s birth and the 100th anniversary of his death. Maybe I should get a cat?

My partner Connor hates cats. He loves Dumas though. I discovered today that author of Count of Monte Cristo fame loved cats. Would he reconsider on that basis?

Probably not.

It’s pointless anyway. I’m asthmatic so I can’t have furry pets inside the house permanently.

We don’t have a backyard here, so we can’t get a dog.

I’m not big on birds in cages, even though I love the graceful brass curves of the antique variety.

We’ve got a balcony. A rabbit hutch would fit on it with room to spare.

Would a rabbit make a good companion?

I’ve changed my desktop background to a fluffy ginger rabbit.

I wonder if Connor would agree to a rabbit?

I hope I’m not allergic to them.

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.