STOP TALKING ABOUT IT, JUST DO IT!
An author’s perspective on writing your first novel
by John Molik
“The heart has its reasons, but the mind makes the excuses” – Amit Abraham
So, you want to be an author? We’ve all been there. It’s one of those things some of us just go through. For others, it’s that dream of one day winning the Snowshoeing World Championships, or becoming a Life Coach with a broad grin and perfect, blinding white teeth, or finally being recognised as the Foosball champion of the world. Writers yearn to try something new and challenging, something we’ve always wanted to do, but for whatever reason, just gets put off as being too difficult or requiring too much of our precious time.
For me, it was writing that first novel, and hopefully if that went well, as many as I could write before that day when old age took away that precious gift of sanity and all-too-important ability to type on a keyboard without copious amounts of Voltaren Emulgel. Of course, like others who are so linguistically inclined, I had numerous stories and some vague plots running around in my head for years.
“that precious gift of sanity and all-too-important ability to type on a keyboard without copious amounts of Voltaren Emulgel”
I’d meet someone at a cocktail or dinner party:
“So, John, what have you been doing with your life these days?”
And of course, I’d look back at him or her with that all-too-familiar wry smile, then rapidly blink with slight unease. “Well, I’m writing a novel.”
“A novel, you say? Wow, how fascinating. What’s it about?”
“Well…” I’d reply while I would shift my focus up and to the right pleading with ceiling god to provide ready insight or some convincing thought nugget. “I, err, um… Well, it’s going to be a conspiracy thriller, you know, in the style of a John Le Carré or a Robert Ludlum, maybe with some Clive Cussler style tongue-in-cheek adventure, and of course, peppered with strong existential themes.”
“Big awkward pause while fake smiles would be formed and eyes would begin to dart quickly around the room”
The person, it didn’t matter which gender, would most likely cup his or her chin between the thumb and forefinger, nod with that inverted smile and reply, “interesting. Wow, I would love to read that.” Big awkward pause while fake smiles would be formed and eyes would begin to dart quickly around the room. “When will it be published?”
That’s when I’d start shifting my weight from one foot to the other while breathing in deeply. The concept “of how best to not to display floundering” would penetrate my consciousness. “Well, I haven’t had any real offers, um, yet. You know, I’m still looking for an agent.”
The person would nod as a matter of appeasement. “Oh, is that what you need to do?”
With pronounced fidgeting but little focus, the delivery would be believable. “Well, yeah, but, I’m also looking at some indie publishers, you know, those that publish commercially viable novels, but without all the hoi polloi, you know, all that arrogance of the trad publishers.”
“Yeah, you know, like the big boys. The ones who throw away ninety-nine point ninety nine percent of anything that is written that somehow miraculously crosses their big, extremely long mahogany desks.”
More fidgeting, but the other person would usually do the firm nod thing, maybe twirl the drink or take a quick sip. “So, you’re going to do this by yourself? I mean, I’ve heard that it’s nearly impossible, you know, to be responsible for everything.”
That last word would sound strong, forceful. It would echo inside my skull. “Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m looking for help, you know, from a group who can lead me in the right direction.”
“Well, good luck with finding something like that,” the person would reply then quickly look to the person next to them, likely another aspiring author. “Excuse me.”
“the bottom line is to stop talking about it, get a real concept, a striking idea”
So that’s how it was for me for several years until I actually got serious, that is, converting that noble concept of becoming a writer into actually being one. Of course, the dinner party banter was fun and I became really good at it, but hey, it was time to move on. One day, the seriousness became a more tangible reality. I had a premise, a concept, the plot!
While having a coffee with a good friend of mine one morning, he launched into a true story about a friend of his who fell into madness while traveling abroad and it was so unbelievably mad, so terrifyingly interesting that at the end of his long diatribe, I stood up, smiled and confidently walked to the toilet. But, of course, before that, I told him, “This is going to be my novel!” I even accentuated the point with my finger pointing to the heavens. “Well, not exactly, but the basic premise. Err, you know what I mean…” There was that long awkward pause again. “Unless, well, you would…err, well, if, of course—”
The hand goes up. The smile forms. The laugh happens. “Go for it, mate.”
“stay strong through the process and don’t go into it sheepishly”
The bottom line is to stop talking about it, get a real concept, a striking idea, some sort of a plot that you just can live in, and just do it. Find your voice, your style, then look for a good group like Mardibooks to help you get the finished product out to market. Will it cost you money? Hell yes. Will you make money? Um, well, do you like busking?
But, hey, look, it doesn’t really matter. You’ve just crossed the line from dream to reality. Stay strong through the process and don’t go into it sheepishly. Be prepared for a lot of hard work, a lot of heartache, criticism, fat lips, and frustration, but with the end result of maybe one day seeing your little baby, your first book, for sale on Amazon. What do you get? A warm sense of accomplishment and of self-confidence that can never be adequately explained to anybody but yourself.
‘The Fiduciary Delusion’ by John Molik is available on Amazon: http://ow.ly/RYnd309yZYE