I have always admired authors. Scrap that; I bloody love authors, they make up the bulk of my hero list. Take my encounter with Sebastian Faulks this summer, for example. I had planned a whole ream of interesting and intelligent things to say to him. What did I actually say? “Will you sign this for my mum?” I know, both genius and original.
But it wasn’t until I started actively working to become an author myself that I realised how hard these guys work to get their novels published. I am currently on the ninth rewrite of my own novel, and I am under no illusions that it will probably be re-written another three times AT LEAST before it is fit to be published. The good news, for me anyway, is that I am not alone. Take Jessie Burton, author of the incredible The Miniaturist; five years and SEVENTEEN rewrites (yes, that’s seventeen rewrites) later and her novel is published to huge critical acclaim.
More importantly, for me anyway, it’s less about the work involved and more about how much I enjoy it. Most people ask me the same questions when they find out I am rewriting my work: Isn’t it frustrating? Don’t you get bored of it? Aren’t you getting tired of the character/plot/writing? For me the answer is a resounding NO and it is this no that gives me confidence. I am happy to look at every sentence, break them down and put them back together again if it makes my novel stronger. I know that if I carry on I will get published, eventually.
What’s the difference between a talented writer and a published writer? Persistence, hard work and self belief.**
I’ve definitely got the first two sorted, the third is a work in progress.
**You can tell I’m not published as I stole this line almost word for word from someone who is: the fantastic Simon Hall (@thetvdetective)