Anyone can write a book, you just have to be persistent
I like to think that everyone has a book in them. That deep down, we all have a story to tell and a message to convey within it. However, for most of us, such ideas are either dismissed as too ambitious (“I’ll never be able to write an entire book!”) or as some fantasy for another day (“maybe I’ll write when I have more time, or when I retire.”)
However, I believe that if we have a gut instinct to do something, not only do we have the skills to achieve it, but we best serve ourselves by finding a way to start making that into a reality as soon as we can. Such was the case with me back on 8th November 2014.
It was a cold, dark day. I was at my Mum’s house, back from university and most likely bored from studying. I was walking back to my room to do God knows what, when, suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere, an idea flashed into my mind. Not a kind of fleeting idea like ‘I might have chicken for dinner tonight,’ or ‘perhaps I’ll watch The Bourne Identity later,’ but an idea that felt like it came from an otherworldly source. An idea that demanded to be acted upon.
All that idea contained was a simple premise. A young man, bored and dissatisfied with his life, travels to Nepal in search of some long-lost temple purported to grant instant enlightenment to all who enter. Yet out of that simple idea came an entire 100,000-word novel. It would have been easy to dismiss such an idea as silly, or unrealistic, or any other number of things, but as I mentioned, this was an idea that felt like it was calling on my very being to be acted upon. Write a novel, it said, and this is your story idea.
And so I did. I started that very same day, deciding I wouldn’t stop until this book was written. One main character soon became two, and the book began to come to life. Some days the writing was harder than others, and I had to weave writing around my other commitments such as work and studying. Some six months later, I had a complete first draft. It wasn’t edited, and was by no means perfect, but it was something.
It was around that time, around April or May of 2015, that I decided I would try and get the book published. Why not, I reasoned – why would anyone want to write a book and not have it seen and read by others? Thus, I spent the next two months frantically editing everything and making sure I was happy enough with the manuscript to send it off to literary agents in the hope that they would take me on. In the end I wrote to seven different agents, and was ultimately turned away by all of them.
Despite a little voice in my head telling me to try and self-publish, I decided not to bother. My feelings of deflation around the book were only confounded when my Dad gave me his full editorial feedback, saying that I had basically ‘lost the plot’ in the second half of the book and that he didn’t really get what the overall message of the story was. Basically, I’d tried to turn the novel into a James Bond-style action thriller rather than sticking to my original idea. However, I’d already spent the last two to three months editing and mind-numbingly going over every little detail of the book, so I was in no mood whatsoever to rewrite half of the manuscript. In the end I simply forgot about it, as my second year of university and life in general took over.
Fast-forward two and a half years to the beginning of last year. Again, the thought of getting my novel published entered into my mind. Jack told me about an upcoming writers’ festival in Winchester happening in June, where literary agents and editors would be present. A great opportunity, I thought, to meet people and have another go at getting my book taken on. Thus I decided to well and truly sink my teeth into reworking the entire novel, re-editing the first half and rewriting the second. This took far longer than expected, however, and by the time the festival came around it was nowhere near ready.
The biggest thing I learnt from that festival was to trust my gut! The two agents I ended up speaking to only served to deter me from seeking out a literary agent in the first place. I didn’t meet the first one’s ‘brand image,’ and I didn’t meet the second’s writing style. The talk that I went to on self-publishing, however, was highly inspiring, and I left the festival knowing exactly what I wanted to do with the book. £200 well spent.
It’s been almost a year since then, and has taken until now to go from simply wanting to self publish my book to having a manuscript, front cover and blurb I can be truly proud of. It’s taken a lot more time than I wanted it to or thought it would, but it’s been worth it. Better to take your time and have something out there you can be truly proud of, than to rush something and have it be full of mistakes. I can now tell people about this book knowing I’ve truly given it my all, and am happy for it to be judged accordingly.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt from all of this, is to follow through with your ideas and keep going with something even when you feel like throwing in the towel. There’ve been many times when I’ve thought ‘what’s the point of all this?’ but ploughed through regardless. It feels so good to actually follow something through from start to finish and end up with something you feel really great about. And with that in mind, I can now close that chapter of my life (excuse the pun!), and move onto other things with no regrets.
I’ve also learnt a lot about asking for help. This book wouldn’t be what it is now without my Mum, who designed an awesome front cover, or my Dad, who inspired me to rework the entire book, basically. Jack and my girlfriend Aylin gave really great and helpful editorial feedback that has made everything much more readable. If you want to write a good book you’re going to need help, even if it’s just so you can see your writing from somebody else’s perspective. If someone’s telling you that a paragraph (or God forbid, half your manuscript!) doesn’t work, it can be the hardest thing in the world to let it go, especially if you really like it. This is all part of the process, however, and as a writer it really pays to listen.
If you’d like to check out my very first novel or get yourself a copy, it’s available to purchase on Amazon here. If you do end up reading the book, please do me the kindness of leaving a review – it makes a difference to my Amazon rating!
And in the meantime, if you’d like to ask me any questions about writing or how to start your own literary journey, just go to the contact page and pop me an email.
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