Am I kidding myself?

I’ve always wanted to write a novel. Now I have and it feels great! The first 40,000 words were the hardest. I felt quite euphoric when the first draft was finished. I then did what Stephen King recommends and left it alone for three months. I’m really glad I did that because when I read it again, I knew it was too thin, the solutions to the characters’ problems too easy and the whole was unsatisfying.

Reworking the first draft was fascinating. The “final” version is nearly twice as long at 78,000 words. I got more and more interested in who my characters are and what motivates them, the more I wrote about them.

So why haven’t I published it yet?

Because I don’t know if it’s any good. I know the solution to this: put it up on amazon and find out what the response is. But there’s a voice in the back of my head saying: “Could do better.” I wish I could say that it’s the voice of a stern teacher who traumatised me as a child by telling me I couldn’t write “bum” on a wall. But my English teachers were always positive and encouraging – so I can’t use that excuse. The same voice is telling me to write the sequel, learn a bit more about the craft of writing and then go back and revise it again. Polish it and make it shine. Is it the absolute best I could have done?

Now that I’ve written a novel, can I call myself a novelist? Or am I kidding myself?

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How do you know when you’ve finished?

Writing the last paragraph of my first novel gave me a feeling of profound satisfaction. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos of J.K. Rowling recently and was fascinated by her description of how she felt on finishing the last Harry Potter: euphoria and then a low point. In her case I can understand it, she spent 17 years with those characters and created an alternative world in Hogwarts that is pure genius.

My experience was nothing like as extreme as hers – obviously it didn’t take me 17 years to write mine – and also I knew that it would need substantial revision.

I was much happier with the second draft than I was with the first, but the advantage of writing something really terrible is:

  1. You’ve finished it and thereby proved to yourself that you can finish a long piece; and
  2. You can revise it substantially, removing clichés, woolly bits, irrelevances, etc and turn it into something much better.

But is it finished? When do you stop revising and declare your novel finished?

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The Hand-Made Plane

the hand-made plane-amazonby Louise Ebenhoeh

Hello!  And welcome to my blog!  Thank you for visiting.  Below is a short description of my novel.  I have finally screwed up the courage to hit the “save and publish” button on Amazon.  This is very empowering.

“A surprise birthday present puts Caroline’s life into a tail-spin. It makes her want to change the world and brings her into contact with a homeless teenager, the millionaire son of an English lord and a mysteriously attractive youth offender.

When they all meet at a drop-in centre for homeless people, each is forced to confront their prejudices and attitudes. Is Caroline’s innocent assumption that love alone can change the world about to receive a serious set-back? Lucy’s life on the street has taught her a lot of survival skills, but she has never learned to trust. How long will Henry be able to buy his way out of trouble? And Jack, whose criminal family landed him in prison, desperately wants to regain control of his life.

Can the pulls of friendship and even love overcome such radically different backgrounds? These four disparate teenagers spend a summer together which none of them will ever forget.”

Have you written a novel?  What was your experience of publishing?  Please comment – I’d love to hear from you!

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