Hello again. It’s been a while. A whole lot longer than I’d originally planned, in fact! I hadn’t intended to do a disappearing act right after setting up the website but soon after hitting the launch button, the beta-reading window for my novel (When You’re Smiling) closed and the next stage of manuscript development opened and—poof!—I was lost in the world of editing.
It has been an interesting and exciting but also quite intense couple of months since my last blog. My lovely beta readers gave me a rich body of supportive and constructively-critical feedback that helped me to look at the novel afresh and make some important changes. That phase of revision gave me manuscript draft four and a story that was finally just where I wanted it to be.
I then completed further readthroughs for line-editing and proofreading to polish up the final manuscript and get it submission-ready, after which it was time to start querying agents. But before launching into that stage of the process, I took a moment to simply celebrate and appreciate the fact that I had finished writing my novel.
Writing a novel might not sound like a big deal. Plenty of people write them, after all, so getting a novel published is what really counts… Or so, that is how the narrative goes. But I don’t believe that for one moment. Given the time and effort that it takes to grow a tiny idea into a full-sized book, it is without doubt an achievement in itself to write one, whether or not it ever reaches publication.
I mention elsewhere how being a writer has been a long-held ambition for me. It was when I was sitting in my GCSE English class reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton that my dream of writing a novel first hatched, and I am now <cough cough> in my mid-forties, which means that it has taken thirty years for just this bit of the big writing dream to come true.
I made a few attempts in the intervening years to write a book but didn’t get far very far with my efforts – partly because I didn’t have many viable ideas, partly because I didn’t have the know-how to build my maybe-decent-enough ideas into book-length stories, and partly (well, mostly) because I didn’t have confidence in my words, have the belief that they were worth writing.
It was this last problem that I needed to address first, because I knew that I would be forever tripping up in the pursuit of my dream if I didn’t develop the confidence to back myself and do whatever needed to be done to make it come true. So I resolved to work on the dream bit by bit, digging deep to summon up just enough courage—the tiniest of grains—to take the first step in the right direction, and then the next grain for the next step, and so on.
Thankfully, I wasn’t on my own for very long. As I found those grains and took those steps, in a laws-of-attraction sort of way, the dream started drawing closer to me. The door opened to a writing course, which led me to the heart of a wonderful writing group. Further mentoring and development opportunities came next, my family too threw their support into the ring as well, and other things began to align, easing my way.
And all the while, a maybe-decent-enough idea that I had for a novel that I had started writing up in 2016 grew and grew and grew, fed by all the love and encouragement and knowledge and advice that I was receiving along the way, until it became a manuscript ready to be sent out to the publishing world.
I don’t know what the future holds for When You’re Smiling. That’s up to agents and publishers to decide (and whatever God wills, of course). But the bit of the process that was up to me, I did it. I wrote a novel. I wrote a novel. The dream had come true. To me, that was definitely a big deal and an achievement worth celebrating.
So that’s it from me for today. I will leave you with a quote from Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, late chairman of Leicester City Football Club, my home team.
The quote was on display beside a portrait of Khun Vichai in the stands at Wembley at the FA Cup Final in May, when Leicester won the cup for the first time in their 130+ year history. His words resonated particularly strongly with me because When You’re Smiling is set against the backdrop of Leicester’s amazing Premier League victory in 2016, so in a way the achievement of my dream has been helped by Khun Vichai having made Leicester’s dream come true. The quote is now stuck to the wall beside my desk, and I can personally testify to their truth: our dreams really can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.
Peace and blessings,