The Complacent Pedantic: on starting a novel

You Should be Writing

The intent is to write fiction, ideally within the fantasy/sci-fi genre, and get paid for it but the steps are bluntly given, full of vague pick-me-ups and rely on an obscene overuse of dusty quotes framed in filigree with a sunset backdrop. Writers tend to write very well-written advice on the subject of writing, but for someone who is pedantic with expectations of grandeur, it gets a little overwhelming. The grandeur of course being my personal epicurean fantasy of earning enough from my first novel to have a place of my own, with a cat that I can responsibly feed.

However, I do take great solace in the fact that I am not the only one out there struggling with this. I made the naive mistake of choosing to write a novel without much prior experience in writing articles or discovering a voice beyond this blog. As a result, I have had to do some extra research in order to gain direction. The best thing about trying to be a writer now is the wealth of information out there by competent, experienced writers that know their stuff. Through their help, I have managed to write a chapter or two with some world-building out of the way and get most of the themes and characters sorted.

My attempts to ameliorate my work still don’t satisfy my own tastes well enough to start agent hunting, but I feel I have come far from my earlier, more maudlin outlooks to being a writer. I thought I would share a bit of what’s helped me but since I have quite a bit to say on the topic and prefer to keep posts under 800 words, I shall tackle it in four main steps.

Step 1: Inspiration

Perhaps you’re already a budding fiction writer or perhaps, like me, you’re currently more a writer on the inside nursing some fragile ideas. Either way you’re playing with the notion of pursuing it as a career. My trigger was reading my older journals and realising that I may just have some talent for this as well as a continuous passion for reading. I had abandoned story- writing in my early teens and realising that I may want to pursue it again was exciting. But as one would expect, the first few things I wrote left me reeling at the prospect that my own mind would concoct such a hideous prevarication on my literate ability (This is when the maudlin began btw).

I found that sometimes all you need is a little inspiration to keep going, be it one of the aforementioned dusty quotes or this lovely video of Neil Gaiman sharing some of his own experiences growing in the industry. Sometimes you might want to go even deeper to understand why your creativity is abandoning you and where it might come from. Being a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, I also realised that most of my inspiration came from writers who um… featured less pigmentation and were of the gender opposite to mine..? I started to doubt my ability to write in a field that historically was not really my own, and began to consider that perhaps I should embrace more aspects of my own past. For doubts such as these, novelist Chimamanda Adichie was a much needed guide. Find your own sources of inspiration and don’t be disheartened if your first few attempts don’t meet your tastes.

Once you’re over the hump of self-doubt, screaming at yourself in the mirror and staring into space hating all existence, we move on to mentally accepting that, in all fairness, you were instinctively very right to feel that way to begin with.

Next Step: Preparation.

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