Making the ‘Write’ Choice

Less than forty-eight hours after I wrote my last blog post on not giving up, I had to admit that I was not going to capable of editing the first 10,000 words of my novel to enter into the Richard & Judy Bestseller competition. Every time I sat down to work on it the overwhelming pressure I had placed on myself bore down on me, crushing my resolve and causing me to weep in frustration. It was too much. And even if it wasn’t too much, did I really want to push my ambition to the point that I would end up hating the process itself?

expectationsThe thing that I learned from this is that my expectations have been raised. I expect a higher standard of work from myself than I would have done a year ago. Working on short stories, editing them until I am sure they are they best they can be and then entering them into competitions: it’s changed how I view my own writing.

When I realised that I would never be able to rewrite the first 10,000 words of my novel I went back and printed off my first draft, thinking that if I could just make this version acceptable it would at least be worth it. However, when I read it back – in comparison with my rewritten first chapter – I was bitterly disappointed with it. It is terrible. This is when I realised that my standards have improved. Six months ago I thought those words were suitable, decent even, but now when I read them back I shake my head at how insufficient they are to tell that story. Now I know what I can do with a short story, I have higher expectations of what I could do with my novel.

So, I took that step back and accepted that I would not be entering the competition that closes on the 1st January. Instead, I have moved the goal-posts. I now intend to enter the novel into Good Housekeeping’s Novel competition with a closing date of 28th February 2014. Two whole months to focus on perfecting those first 5,000 words, writing that synopsis and determining what my biography might say about me. This is a much more realistic goal, and one that I’m happy attempting.

I guess it pays to be practical sometimes. As a result of my decision to ‘give up’ on the R&J Competition I’ve had an enjoyable, family filled Christmas with plenty of rest and relaxation. It’s been refreshing, and now I’m ready to get back to it; to sit down and come up with a plan for 2014, write some more short stories to enter into competitions and concentrate on making my novel the best it can be.

And the best thing is I know it was the right decision.

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10 responses to “Making the ‘Write’ Choice

  1. Pingback: Writing Peaks and Troughs | Cat Lumb: The Struggle to be a Writer

  2. Pingback: 2013: In Review | Cat Lumb: The Struggle to be a Writer

  3. I know Richard and Judy can be the gateway to bestselling superstardom, but I don’t think they’re a good judge of writing. You can guarantee some Fifty Shades of Harry Potter garbage wins it. It will hardly be a literary masterpiece as Judy’s brain will explode.

    So take solace in the fact that you write better than whoever wins this.

    Much, much better.

  4. I’m glad you’ve improved in both your writing and ability to recognise good writing – it’s a fab skill to have and can only be gained by writing, reading and reflecting 🙂

    • Me too – it’s further proof that it takes time to develop and that we, as writers, need to be patient.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

  5. Hi Cat. Gotta tell ya, expectation is a harsh taskmaster. I try not to let my ego beat me up [but it does]. I’ve been writing for a long time, only now I want to sell it. Make a living off it. The pressure of just surviving is great enough. We are always our own worst critics. There are days when I’m giddy with the writing. There are days I hate it and I think I suck. The truth I now find is that I can’t do this alone.

    I’ve been spending the last week out on http://www.scribophile.com/

    It’s an online writers community. Basic service is free. So far, so good. You might want to check it out 🙂

    Don’t quit. Don’t ever, ever quit.

    • I totally agree about being our own worst critics – the most pressure I ever experienced was fabricated entirely by myself, no outside force necessary!

      Funny you should mention Scribophile, I joined up earlier this year, and I think it’s contributed to some of my own objectivity about my writing. Critiquing other people’s writing does help me to recognise my own flaws and common mistakes. It’s a good place to practice this.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good luck with the writing! I’ll look you up on Scribophile!

      Take Care, 🙂

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