One month into my first determined effort to write a novel, things are going quite well. I’m not convinced the book itself is going to be particularly fantastic, but my priority is actually less about producing a beautifully written, marketable book and more about getting to the completion stage. Ever since I was a small child, I was obsessed with writing stories. I would spend my weekends writing terrible tales about idyllic families and countryside exploits that took me far away from my suburban world. These stories were not particularly long, spanning perhaps six or so A4 pages, and I never actually managed to get to the end before getting discouraged and giving up. Since those early attempts at creating an imaginary world on paper, I have tried many more times to write something meaningful, but always without actually getting to those two magical last words: ‘The End’. I took creative writing classes in my early twenties, which I hoped would help me with this problem by providing me with the knowledge of the structures and processes behind writing a longer piece of work, but unfortunately it just left me feeling frustrated and even more inept. As I listened to the wonderful prose being produced by my classmates, my own seemed so amateur in comparison, and I lost my confidence in myself completely.
Shortly afterwards, I started blogging as a way to try and resurrect my love of writing. Rather than the panic and embarrassment I had felt about sharing my writing in front of the other members of my creative writing class, I felt empowered and freed by the notion of publishing my work anonymously. I could receive honest feedback, both negative and positive, and take time to reflect on what could be improved in my writing. I could write about whatever I wanted, at whatever length I wanted, and each post was a finite piece of work that allowed me to feel a sense of completion and achievement every time I pressed ‘publish’. Over time, as I built up a readership and found my own distinctive voice, writing became something that was a real pleasure and a way for me to truly express myself, and I came to love the times when I would sit down to plan and produce a new blog post, crafting my sentences and choosing my vocabulary carefully to create the perfect response to a novel, a trip or whatever else I was writing about.
Blogging really gave me my confidence back, and for the last few years I have been increasingly thinking about writing something longer. I have occasionally started a novel, but have always given up after the first few pages, convinced that it was absolute rubbish and that I was being stupid by even trying to write a book in the first place. However, I went on a course at work just before the summer holidays that was all about focusing on personal goals and putting plans into action to ensure that they are achieved rather than remaining pipe dreams. We were given plenty of time to reflect on our own about the things we would like to aim for in our lives, and the first thing that came into my mind was writing a novel. I have been so passionate about writing for so long that I know, deep down, I will never be satisfied with myself unless I genuinely give writing something for publication a go, and so I sat down over the summer and planned out the book I am currently writing. For the first time, I have an entire plot and a cast of characters fleshed out, and I am, as of writing this, at 30,000 words, which is a record for me and feels like an enormous achievement. I am making myself write something every day so that I can reach a goal of 30,000 words per month, and while it is a challenge to fit this in around work and social commitments, it is such a thrill to see the word count creeping up and my story coming to life on the page. I am finding many of my thoughts becoming possessed by the characters I am creating, and it is adding a real excitement to the usual routine of my every day life. Even if nobody but me ever reads it, I don’t care: at the moment, I am just thoroughly enjoying the process and I cannot wait until the moment when I will finally write ‘The End’!