From Brain to Bookshelf … and Beyond!
When I launched back into the world of blogging – this time without a tech team – I set up a blog called ‘From Brain to Bookshelf’. The aim of it was to chart my journey from author-in-waiting to author. This was my first post, typed in this very room, on the 16th of December, 2008:
From Brain to Post Office
Writers write. Who said that? I should probably have looked that up before I started this blog shouldn’t I? Clearly writers don’t merely write: writers research then writers write. Never mind. The point I was planning to make was: ‘writers write and now I know that.’
Bet you’re thinking ‘thank goodness I clicked onto this blog, it’s so very insightful. Now I can face my day,’ but before you go off and make some toast, let me explain why I am such a big fan of the ‘writers write’ thing.
The ‘Writers Write’ Thing
I have lost track of the number of novels I have started to write. Having read about a bit – magazines and such – I am tempted to believe that this is a common malady. In drawers and boxes around the world lie the very early stages of great works of fiction, stashed away for possible future development by hopeful hoarders. I like to think that Shakespeare’s earliest (unpublished) work, ‘Beryl and The Impatient Shepherd,’ will be found any day now and make us all feel better. Until then, my advice to any writer would be to pull the early stages of a book out of the drawer and turn it into the later stages of a book: this is where the magic of ‘writers write’ will be made known to you. Starting a novel is easy but, and forgive me for allowing myself to sound like an expert on the subject having cranked out a single novel, finishing a novel is tricky. The reason? The middle bit.
The Middle Bit
It’s not so much the beginning of the middle bit that did my head in. It was the absolute middle of the middle bit. You know when you’re on a journey – maybe in a car or even on a boat or plane – in horribly dodgy weather and all the time until you get to the middle bit you are thinking ‘it’sOK, we’re not far from home, we can go back if it gets REALLY bad’? Well, you know that middle point, before the bit where you think ‘it’s okay, we’re past the half way point, we’re nearly there’? That’s the bit I’m talking about. There was a point in the middle of my novel when I felt completely out of control. The characters that I had so lovingly created started to turn on me. It wasn’t that they jumped off the page and throttled me exactly, it’s just that they became the decision makers in the novel. Suddenly I was no longer monarch and president-for-life over the world of my book. Suddenly, the characters owned it. There had been a revolution and none of them thought to tell me until the middle of the novel, when I was too far in to run away.
Partially sighted panic tackled me onto the floor and sat on my chest for a while until I got my breath back enough to decide to write through the fear, even if it meant I had to throw my very detailed plan out of the window and go where my characters led me, which is what I did. Gradually the clouds cleared and the homeward journey was actually a wonderful experience. My characters had been absolutely right to drag me somewhere else and were kind enough to allow me to steer them back through a few of the lanes I had planned for them to meander down on the way home.
The Post Office
So yesterday, after about a billion years of agonising over the letter I wrote to the agent, I walked to the local post office and handed across my precious work. When he asked whether it contained anything valuable and I replied ‘only my life’s work,’ he looked disdainfully at the slender package so I was forced to add ‘only the first three chapters of it.’ Fortunately, as people were queuing behind me, I stopped myself from adding ‘and it’s not my life’s work as such, I’ve done lots of other things’ before handing over my C.V. He wished me good luck, I came home and had a cup of tea and now my future lies in the hands of someone in an office in London.
This brings me to the blog, which I just decided to do on account of the fact that, however convinced I am in the brilliance of my own work, the statistics don’t make chirpy reading. Evidently getting published takes a while, so while I wait I thought I’d share the process and we could all have a jolly good giggle at my rejection letters.
I haven’t a clue how this thing works, having not done it before, but I guess there’s some way in which you can leave messages of a hopeful or interesting nature and if I’m right and you can then please feel free to do so. In the mean time, I will blog back whenever there is anything to blog as I’m pretty sure the rule applies: bloggers blog.
_____________[dropcap1 variation=”red”]N[/dropcap1]ow, I’m an Amazon Bestselling author. People read my books on Kindles and iPhones. Back in 2008 I had no clue this was how things would go. I was still in the ‘agents are knights on white horses’ stage of the process, and I imagined that my book would arrive on the shelves of some dusty bookshop, somehow. I could never have imagined the whole industry was about to change more than it had in 500 years, and that I would be right in the middle of that revolution.