5 Valuable Lessons I Learned From Writing a Novel
After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ~ Philip Pullman
When someone reads a book they are going on a journey. That person has invested hours of their life travelling in the mind of the author, wanting nothing more than to reach the end if it’s an exciting adventure…
The fictional dream is a powerful phenomenon. There’s been many a time I couldn’t stand not knowing what was going to happen next because I was totally engrossed in a story. Equally there were moments when my imagination was in overdrive and I was writing so fast there must have been steam coming off my keyboard.
Just as the benefits of reading impact on the reader, the action of writing imbues blessings on the writer.
I’m willing to bet even famous and seasoned novelists still get a rush of joy when they read a good review of their work. It’s a kind of validation that the thing they love doing and can’t live without is somehow contributing to another person’s life in a positive way.
That’s certainly the case for me as a newbie author. But beyond those feel good factors there are some profound and deep things I discovered about myself in the process of writing and publishing The Virtuoso, that go way beyond recognition or financial success.
It may not be a literary masterpiece in the same ilk as Hilary Mantel’s, or as epic as War and Peace, but it’s my story, told with my ‘voice’.
In the spirit of sharing I thought it would be helpful to list my personal lessons, in case you were thinking of writing your magnum opus or best-seller this year! It could equally apply to any large project that you have decided to undertake in 2016.
- I’m a finisher. The first time I wrote the words The End a feeling of euphoria swept over me, but alas, it didn’t last very long! When I saw the quality of my first draft I was less than impressed and soon realised that it was going to take an awful lot of hard work to produce something of a respectable standard. After umpteen late nights, a further three drafts and two professional edits my 100,000 word manuscript was ready to go out into the big wide world. So what if it took a few years of consistent effort alongside my daily life; what means more to me is that I completed it.
- I have more courage than I thought I did. Sending your carefully crafted words out there is scary as hell! What if people don’t like what you’ve written? Neuroses plagued me. But I reasoned that ultimately it wasn’t important what people thought of me as a writer, the only thing that mattered was the book. The message not the messenger. After my book was published I did three radio interviews, which the thought of doing absolutely terrified me at first. I spent most of last year way out of my comfort zone. But action cures fear. I was doing things I had never done before and conquering them, which is incredibly liberating and expands one’s horizons and confidence.
- The act of writing made me believe in myself. Although I visualised my book in print, I didn’t dwell on thinking about writing, I just did it. That created a real shift in my perception and before long my abilities. My creativity blossomed under the hat of hard work. I met and worked with two incredibly talented people as a result of my ‘creation’. The wonderful violinist Adelia Myslov and film composer Tim Johnsoncollaborated with me to write and perform a unique classical soundtrack to accompany The Virtuoso. Creativity begets creativity…
- I developed patience and perseverance. That lesson didn’t come easily either. I’ve had to work at becoming more patient and my book tested me to the limit! The time it took to write the thing, then get feedback, then polish and get more feedback and so on seemed interminable. Had it not been a labour of love I never would have stuck at it. Even the submission stage was a lengthy process, never mind how long it took to build up some reviews. They were worth waiting for as it turned out.
- I learnt to trust my instincts and to forgive myself for my mistakes.Perfection is great to aim for, but in reality we sometimes have to settle for our best at the time. Our maiden voyage in any endeavour is likely to be a little awkward and unsure. Can you remember the first time you rode a bike, drove a car, made love, played a musical instrument or learnt a new skill? Maybe you fell off a few times, fumbled nervously, dropped a few notes and irritated another driver with that daring manoeuvre at the roundabout? So too it is with writing and publishing a book. No experience is ever wasted; you just don’t always get what you expect from it, but rather what you need instead.
Ultimately your lessons will be unique to you, depending on where you’re coming from and they’ll probably surprise you.
Somehow the right people came into my life at the right time, and the support was there when I needed it. I’m very grateful to Satin Publishing for unleashing my words, and everyone who’s been a part of my writing/publishing journey.
Above all, I’ve managed to widen back and go with the flow a bit more. On the other hand, if you do feel inclined to read The Virtuoso I’d be very happy indeed!
And if you also wrote a review I’d be ecstatic!
I’ll leave you with the music that only exists because of the dream that was The Virtuoso…
So, whatever you’re planning to achieve this year, go for it!
“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” ~ J.K. Rowling