Don’t Just Write Your Novel…


I have spent such a long time being so immersed in putting my novel together I kind of forgot how important it is to write and do other things as well.  Flash fiction, competitions,  projects for writers etc.

This all adds to your CV.  I really must make a conscious effort to diversify.  Sticking to one book, editing and trying to make it work is fine, but you do need to read more on how to write and get published and learn from it.  A publisher or an agent will probably feel you are making an effort if you can show you won a writing competition or are presently working to write straplines for an advertising agency.  When you apply for a job I am sure you always state on your CV everything you have done to make it look impressive.  I think now I have to start writing for other means instead of only working on my novel. My CV needs to have more writing experiences.  I think it’s because I am retired and don’t need to work any more.  Being self-employed for twenty five years hasn’t made me feel I want to go back to earn money. My time is done.  I am on a pension now and I don’t  feel that sense of urgency and commitment I used to enjoy so much.

BUT… I think now is the time for me to start afresh.  I am too young to retire completely.  My own mother never retired.  She was 89 when she passed away in November 2010 and was a lesser known actress on TV, but she had a never ending amount of energy right up until she had her stroke.  She was still doing TV programmes and tap dancing until a year before she died.  It’s sad to think that one day you are fine and enjoying life and in an instant it is all snatched away.

So my plan is to start again.  Life begins at 62.  My father gave up on life at the age of 62 and died at 72.  He was a prisoner of war and I don’t think he ever recovered.  He smoked and then it was too late.

I am reasonably fit but I do find life in Holland to be rather – dare I say it – boring.  It’s lovely in the summer (despite all this rain) but in the winter it’s as though it all shuts down for five months and it’s in those months I need to feel needed.  The point I am making here is that if I don’t get out there and do something about it, I’ll fade away.  So this is my new plan for 2012 and I shall start a new business in the field of writing, I mean writing is a business once you start looking for publishers.   Perhaps do some reviews for people needing help on their first three chapters.  There are so many people out there who need help with writing. I am all for those who want to learn how to write, it is so rewarding. Not everyone can afford to pay someone for critique.  I do reviews and critique but it’s supportive and gratis.

My time is my own and that’s a great position to be in but sometimes I feel like a dog in a forest.  Which way do I go?  I am sure something good is about to happen, I can feel it.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Don’t Just Write Your Novel…

  1. A laudable idea, but perhaps more sensible to wait until you are published yourself. Are people really going to take much notice if you aren’t?

    • Oh I think so Lesley you have to market yourself way in advance of publishing. I am published I suppose with various magazine articles, but the big one is the novel. If you don’t blow your own trumpet now no-one else is going to blow it for you. When you send off your CV to an agent she needs to see you have done some positive things in your life. Marketing yourself and showing your past experiences are all important toward choosing this writer for her business.

  2. Honestly, Lin – get a grip! Yes, you do need to market yourself, but you can’t be pushy if you’ve got nothing to push – and as yet, you haven’t. And you absolutely can’t critique anybody else’s work until you have the proof that you’re good enough to do it by having your own novel published. Also, it is incredibly presumptuous to be telling well published authors with a good deal of experience what they ought to be doing.

  3. Thanks Lesley for your comments I do appreciate them as always and they are well noted. Many writers are self publishing these days and I am not sure where that puts them in the world of ‘being good enough to have your own novel published’ I do have quite a bit of experience in writing having had some work published but not in the world of novel writing. I am not a complete beginner. The comment was meant to be general and not personal but apologies if you thought it was.

    As I said your comments are appreciated

    All the best

    Lin

  4. Lin – I’ve read your Romna posts (and the replies) with some interest – one of the reasons that I’ve checked out your blog, as you requested. Now, I’ve been published for some time and I know some things have changed since I started out BUT many things haven’t. So – yes, I agree in these crowded-with-books days you have to market yourself and your novel, along with any promo your publisher may see fit to put in place – BUT (that’s a big but!) until you have a published novel to market I honestly think your time and energy is better spent simply WRITING. I also totally agree with Lesley’s comment that until you are a published author it is possibly best not to offer your services to appraise or critique other people’s writing. There are lots of advisory services doing just that – all run by qualified industry professionals or well-established writers – and you, as yet, are neither of these things. While I’d be the last person to try and curb anyone’s enthusiam (and I can tell you’re very enthusiastic) for writing, I do feel, by your gung-ho, all-guns-blazing and (apparently) to-hell-with-any-advice from-those-who-know, you may risk alienating the very people you NEED to support you when and if (and again it’s a big IF – there are no guarantees in the publishing world) you do make the breakthrough and become published. Please don’t insult other authors – ever – especially those who are giving you good advice – it is one of the worst things you can do in a close-knit community such as ours. When and if your novel is published, you will need the good-will of fellow writers, believe me. Publishing is a very small world – authors talk to each other and to agents and editors all the time. You need to cultivate all the support you can get from your peers. And while agents and editors are always looking for new talent, new writers, new authors who will take the publishing world by storm with their first novel, they will also avoid like the plague anyone who doesn’t stick to the rules (and believe me there are *lots* of rules) or who threatens to be that much disliked creature – A Difficult Author Who Wants To Go Her Own Way. This advice is meant sincerely and kindly – please take time to listen to what other PUBLISHED writers are telling you.

  5. I have experience in Sales Support, and Marketing & Sales, and indeed I do believe that being to pushy can have a counterproductive effect. On the other hand when you never blow your trumpet nobody will know.

    ‘So I do think that you need to have a ballance’.

    Also I do think that – for example just as with building up anticipation with releasing a New Movie – you can start to market yourself in advance, Only I don’t know how Publishers will react to this. I can imagine that there is a chance that they really love it, or there is a possible risk that the Marketing and Sales people from a Publisher might have intirely other ideas about it and don’t want to see it at all.

    Just as when a scriptwriter writes little camera directions only when for the story important or constantly writes camera directions in every scene in a way that the director of the movie thinks the scriptwriter attempts to do his job.

  6. Just to chip in briefly… I know you want to feel busy Lin, but I would entirely endorse what Christina says – your energy is best spent on writing – attending writers’ weeks etc maybe (to learn I mean, not teach!) and anything you can get to develop your way with words and stories. Marketing yourself when appropriate may well come later – but what you don’t want to be is a ‘look-at-me’ type – and boy aren’t there a lot of those out there – with not much substance behind it. Maybe keep your powder dry for a bit!

    It sounds as if, if there comes a time when you do get published, you will be good at the marketing side. Some of us, myself very much included, loathe all the marketing stuff and have to be dragged into it kicking and screaming – I’d much rather be in a room on my own, writing! But as everyone says, it might be better to get the novel sorted out first.

    Very good luck!

  7. This is great advice for any writer and all your comments are well noted. I think there are peaks and troughs with writing a novel. Sometimes you just want to get out there and shout about it and then you learn that perhaps this won’t get you anywhere, it can alienate. I think writing a novel has to be the biggest learning curve of your life. I have taught driving and instructor training for 25 years and I think learning about writing is equal to all the peaks and troughs I had in those early years before I became one of the UK’s top lady instructors. You will get there in the end it’s all down to determination, perhaps sheer bloody mindedness and some good old active listening to those in the ‘know’. You are right Annie I do love marketing and it’s something that most of us hate. I used to have a difficult time teaching my instructors how to get business. It was harder than teaching them how to be instructors.

    .Each of us has our own life skills to bring to the writing industry, this is what makes it so interesting.

    Yes, I agree – listen to the authors they know best.

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