It’s taken four long and tumultuous years and four re-writes but I’ve done it! Yesterday I printed and packaged up my first novel and sent it off to the Romantic Novelist Association New Writer’s Scheme. COMPLETE. A whole 86200 words! And I can’t tell you how good I feel today.
It’s been a tough slog. Along the four years my Nan, who brought me up, passed away, I’ve had major surgery, my husband of twenty-three years left my sons and I. Then there was the subsequent divorce, house move and upheaval, yet more surgery and treatments while at the same time having builders in for months to renovate our new home throughout.
Looking back I can see how my writing slipped well down the list of priorities. There were times when I despaired at my lack of inspiration and motivation to progress my WIP, ‘Living in the Past,’ or ‘Mothers Love’ as it started out when I came second in the Festival of Romantic Fiction’s new Talent Award in 2011. My head was too full of everything. I’d lost my mojo and all confidence. I couldn’t do it. Who would want to read my books? The number of times I’d mutter to myself, ‘Stop kidding yourself! It’s just a dream.’
But a dream is just a wish without a plan isn’t it? Somehow I mustered some inner strength and with the cajoling of my closest friends, I was persuaded not to give in. Knowing I had to do something or I’d forever kick myself for failing, I booked to go on an Arvon Course with Kate Long and Simon Thirsk. There for a week, I motored on with the WIP and when I read out one of the chapters to the group my writing was described as, ‘Catherine Cookson meets Stan Barstow.’ It was a huge turning point. That course made me believe.
However once I returned home from course, inspired as I was, domestic chaos kicked in again. I drifted for another year or so. I say drifted. What I actually mean is I spent about nine months of it stepping over bags of concrete, RSJ’s, lengths of wood, stacked in piles and tins of this and that, listening to builders and their incessant banter, drilling, hammering, sawing, being without electricity or water for days on end. It was hardly conducive to quiet writing time!
I wrote when I could (which wasn’t very often) and sent in a partial of the novel last year to the NWS. It was a very favourable report which once again, restored my belief. Realising if I kept on as I was doing, I’d keep on getting the same results, I went on Tamsyn Murray’s, ‘Live, Breathe, LOVE WRITING!’ earlier this year. I talked about it in my last Life Cycle post. It gave me that final push and with the help of two of the other delegates, Helen Walters and Bernadette O’Dwyer, we challenged ourselves to finish.
It was a first to actually be able to type the words, ‘THE END’ at the end of July. Then final edits and one last read-through with the help of a good friend and it was done.
I don’t mind admitting there were several dark occasions when domestic chaos, my health and the demands of life overwhelmed me and I almost bailed from writing and the RNA altogether and gave up forever my dream to be published. Had it not been for my Romaniac girls and the wonderful supportive RNA, writer friends and closest friends who kept my spirits up and kept me believing I may not be able to say, ‘I DID IT!’
I DID IT. Now the hard work begins to find an agent or publisher who is interested but for now, I’ll settle for having finished it. My Nan’s words ring in my head, ‘You see; didn’t I always tell you, there’s no such word as ,’CAN’T.’
Until another day,
25 thoughts on “Life Cycle of a Writer – There’s no such word as ‘Can’t.’”
You deserve every bit of success that comes your way, Debbie. You are so supportive of other writers and have kept going through the ‘bad times’. I hope there are plenty of good times ahead of you now.
Aww, thank you so much, Lizzie. You’re very kind. Ditto!
We knew you’d do it, Debbie. Now celebrate 😀 Well done. It’s a massive achievement xxx
Funny you should mention celebrating, Laura. I’m just back from an Indian meal at Jaipur with the boys. Thank you sooo much. I couldn’t have done it without you girls. xxx
I have tears in my eyes reading this post Debbie. Well done – bloody brilliant!
I still remember meeting you at the Festival of Romance and chatting about your writing, and at every RNA Conference we’ve been to (and drank wine at together) you’ve been determined to finish this book. I am full of admiration and pride that you’ve done it, and am sure a publication deal isn’t too far off.
Love, Nikki xxx
Bless you, Nikki. Thank you. You’re so right. We’ve had many a happy time at the conferences and parties, haven’t w?. It’s so nice to report after all these years of talking about it, I’ve actually found the strength to cross the line. As I said to Laura, I couldn’t have done it without all of your support. Let’s keep the celebrations until I find representation though! Fingers crossed, eh? Hopefully see you soon. Best to you. xxx
You did it! Well done x
I did but much of it thanks to you and Helen. Thank you for giving me that last boost and getting up with me at 5.30am. WE did it! Now the hard work begins … xx
Well done, Debbie. You’ve had an awful lot to cope with, and you should be very proud of yourself! Good luck with the NWS report. I’ll bet it’s full of positive comments. xx
Thank you for your encouragement. Fingers crossed it is, but if it isn’t, I’ll tweak and revise accordingly. I love the RNA. We NWS people are so lucky to have such wonderful support from the organisation and our writer friends, like yourself! Best to you xx
What a fabulous and inspirational post. I’m full of admiration and awe. You did it – and you deserve every success – and I for one can’t wait to read your book when it is published. Well done! x
Aww, how kind you are, Janice. I couldn’t have done it without the support of the RNA and writer friends like you. Thank you for spurring me on. Fingers crossed my next post will be about submitting and publication! xx
That’s great news, Debbie. Congratulations—you’ve already notched up a huge achievement in completing your book, which is something most people never achieve. Good luck!
Thank you, Christina. It’s like building a house brick by brick on your own, isn’t it? Thank you so much for your message and good wishes I really appreciate it. x
Fantastic post, Debbie, and such an encouragement to us other struggling writers too, who juggle life and work, bad times and crises. Believing in yourself is such a key. We all believe in you, Debbie, and will look forward to buying and reading your book when it comes out! But the main thing is the achievement of completing a ms. Great admiration for your determination and sticking power. Well done, you!
That’s so lovely of you to say, Julia. Thank you for your encouragement. I couldn’t get this far and not finish, could I? This is what we writers do. It goes with the territory. 60% creative but the rest sheer determination, resilience and sticking power! xx
Good luck to everyone submitting this year!
Thank you sooo much, Margaret. The RNA and my writer friends have helped me make it happen x
I’ve tweeted this, and put a link in the Arvon group’s blog too. Inspirational.
YOU are my inspiration, Kate! You and Simon gave me back my belief and the confidence to do it. I will always remember my time at Lumb Bank, Heptonstall and forever thank you, whatever comes of my MS. xx
So inspiring to read your post. I have just been on an Arvon course with kate Long and Jeremy Page and it has left me feeling full of optimism and the strength to continue attempting to write, despite a full time demanding teaching job.. I am on holiday now of course so the real test will be when I return in on September 1st. Congratulations on achieving your first book. I look forward to reading it. Best wishes Helene Beavan..
Thank you so much for your comment, Helene. I remember that feeling well and am envious that you’ve been on an Arvon Course! Life has a habit of getting in the way so please don’t beat yourself up once you’re back on 1st September if you don’t achieve quite what you’d like to. It took me a further year or two to battle through the domestic stuff and get there. Just keep that course in your mind and remember the optimism and strength you have now. If you surround yourself with the right ‘writerly’ people it won’t fail you and you WILL get there too. Keep in touch and find me on FB/Twitter so I can in turn keep you in touch with some of my lovely writer friends. We’re all in it together xx
Brilliant inspirational post, and I love that it’s been writing courses with other writer friends which have inspired you to believe in yourself. What a great endorsement for those courses!
So true, Kath. Through thick and thin, it’s been my writer friends who have kept me going. We have a wonderful support network, don’t we? Thank you for your message and kind words. x
Well done, Debbie, that’s a fantastic achievement. And thank you for the inspirational post.
Best wishes, Elle 🙂 xx