While the embers glow, there is life.


Book number two steams forth, thanks to a solid playlist and a calendar of deadlines. However, I may have misjudged how to start a second novel. 

When commencing APOL, my enthusiasm was bristling and, after a modicum of planning, I just wrote.  Later in APOL, I wish I’d planned more and knew my characters better. I needed to rewrite a lot in order to line everything up the way I wanted it. This dilemma, however, doesn’t seem to be cured by ‘over-planning’; something of the chicken and the egg about this conundrum.

It’s very difficult to know how your characters will act in a situation without knowing who they are.  Equally, it’s a bit of a bastard to decide who your characters are without knowing what they will be challenged by. Which scenes will sparkle with which type of character? I’ve used my basic, ‘That would be cool to see’ model, plus character archetypes, plus historical research – I’m finding it difficult to find a great reference for how coal miners cut into the coalface in the late 1940’sUK.

Of course, with a polished manuscript – yet to be accepted by an agent/publisher – under my belt, the crushing lack of self-confidence slows progress too. When writing a first draft, I must ignore the years of work that went into the previous writing.  The manuscript has years of work in it.  The line I am writing now has just been born.  I musn’t accuse my newborns of being inept young adults.

To aid in Book Two efforts, I’ve booked myself a week off work and home alone at the end of July. This needs to be serious; I need to spend decades being creative. The sooner I can get to a standard – the sooner I can live creatively. This is my mid-life crisis talking now…yet I have to listen.  I’m forever fearful of being on my death bed and wondering why I never tried.  Now is the time to achieve, work hard.  Fuck, I sound like a motivational tape.

This last month did see a rejection from a publisher that really upset me. Strangely, I initially told this publisher my manuscript wasn’t for them.  I gave my elevator pitch and brief synopsis with the goal of having them suggest OTHER suitable publishers who may be interested. Yet, after this, they asked to have a look themselves. In here, somewhere, a spark of hope ignited. When that spark was extinguished, the hurt grated more than other rejections/silences.  It’s a horrible business. The embers of hope remain, I need to feed them.

Irons need to be added to the fire. I’m sure it’s a matter of waiting for the right publisher, or agent, on the right day.

Not really a shit sandwich format today, rather a nice slice of crusty loaf sitting on a cowpat.  The final turd I have to dump here is a gripe with casual readers. If you are a hobbyist writer, doing it for fun, you’ll give your stories to friends and they’ll tell you how great you are.  Once you declare that you are writing seriously, everybody you give your work to – no matter how well you know them – no matter what their level of writing proficiency – no matter how informal their request for a read – will return to you with a critique of how your work didn’t satisfy them.

I am a writer.
Here to entertain and thrill.
Please insert complaints.

…and out on a haiku.

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  1. Hi David, Firstly, Natasha Lester has an online course on pitching your novel to agents and publishers coming up through the Australian Writers’ Centre, which might be helpful to you at this stage.

    Secondly, and I know this is hard, try not to get too down about rejections and negative feedback. I’m currently using the loads of (negative) feedback I was given from an agent to give my novel a complete overhaul. This is about Draft #17 or 18, and about the fourth complete overhaul I’ve made since completing the first draft. I’m prepared to do whatever will make it more attractive to a publisher as that’s what I want. Each time I’ve handed my novel over to someone, I’ve thought it was ready. As much as I didn’t really like hearing it, I took their feedback on board, and it improved it. I look back now and wonder how I could have possibly thought it was ready all those drafts ago! The thing is, as first time novelists, we have so much to learn so we might as well make the most of feedback from those in the business.

    It’s an up and down business, that’s for sure, and it’s not very kind to our egos. You probably have my contact details through the BLPG—if you’d like to chat sometime, give me a call. Louise

    • Thanks, Louise and bloody hell, I’ve written a miserable blog again.
      I must try to be a bit cheery in future. When reflecting here, I’m hoping to create a record of the honest ups and downs of creating a book. Sometimes, this can be a bit dreary.

      My manuscript has also received several rewrites and more polish than the dining room table. Nonetheless, I wish to stay true to a method and mythos. Accepting, and acting upon, the right advice is important to me.

      Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m Natasha Lester’s audience. There are endless pages of advice, techniques and ‘things to avoid’ listed on the internet. My efforts have been guided by what I can source through private research.

      Thanks again for your offer of a chat, that is really lovely of you.

      From what I’ve read of your work, I would have thought local publishers would be most intrigued in your manuscript. The scene we read last time we met at the BLPG still resonates. It won’t be long before you have your break through.

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