Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Rhubarb and Novel Writing

I’m writing this with a pan of rhubarb cooking in the kitchen. The hot, sweet smell drifts down the corridor promising good things to come. Next door Himself is on the phone talking to – oh no. A music shop. He’s asking about buying another cornet.

When he finished the call, I went next door.
‘Are you buying another cornet?’
‘Well, possibly.’
‘You’ve already got one cornet and a trumpet. Why do you want another one?’
He shook his head then and giggled guiltily. ‘It’s all about tone, Pop. You wouldn’t understand.’

Er, no. What I do understand is him. Rather better than he thinks. And I can see another cornet winging its way here to join the growing selection which he bought in order that he can ‘sell them on and make some money, Pop.’ But having got here, they stay. I don’t think he can bear to part with them. While I get broody over dogs, Himself gets broody over wind instruments.

I’ve just finished correcting the final draft of my current novel prior to sending it off to the critique service for their comments. As half of my mind is on journalism, I feel more distanced than usual, but it’s scary. I know this is the best I’ve ever written, but at the same time this doesn’t mean it will get published. And if I start getting rejections for this one (which is inevitable, given this game), I know how I’ll feel.

At first I brush them off. Then as the number grow, I realise it’s not going to work. My confidence crumbles and I feel bitterly disappointed, disillusioned and a failure. I’ll never want to write another novel again. This one is complex but the characters are much better, I feel, the plot much tighter. I’ve been looking at in amazement, thinking, Did I really write this? How? And also, if this isn’t good enough, I can’t do better than this. (Or can I?)

There is, of course, the faintest chance that I will send it out to agents and get some interest. (In my wildest dreams.) If I was to get an offer – which would be a two book deal - I’d be utterly terrified because I don’t think I could do this again. It’s too much hard work, and I don’t know how I wrote this one – there’s no formula. It either works or it doesn’t, a bit like relationships. But as the chances of this happening are extremely remote, I won’t lose any sleep over that.

The chances are, my baby will get turned down. And I will feel terrible for a week or so, sob my heart out and take Mollie for long, cleansing walks. And then I’ll realise that I can do better, and I will. I’ll pick myself up and start over again, because there’s no point in giving in. That’s the only time you really fail, when you give up.

Oh shit. I’ve burnt the rhubarb.


Cornish Dreamer said...

Isn't the smell of cooking rhubarb wonderful, a shame it burnt though, I hope you can salvage some.

I think you should be patting yourself on the back for having the strength and courage to complete your novel. Not many people get that far. Of course you're going to be concerned about being rejected, but don't forget how many times J.K. Rowling was rejected before she was finally published. Don't let it stop you from writing!There's always hope.


Anonymous said...

I think you're always your own worst critic - so if you think the novel's good, it probably is. You may just be pleasantly surprised by the response! I do hope so. Have you had any books previously published?

Flowerpot said...

RT, thanks for that. The rhubarb is salvaged (has a sort of burnty tang to it but is almost edible). And no, you know me, it won't stop me writing fiction - it's the publication that's the tricky bit!

Flowerpot said...

Graham, P & T - that's very encouraging. Thanks. No, I haven't had any fiction published, only articles. But I shall persevere...

Daniele said...

You write beautifully in your blog flowerpot, I have no doubt that the novel is just as well written and keep my fingers crossed that it'll be published.
A close friend of mine had her book published last year and it's just a wonderful thing! It's not about sales or making money for her, it's about having a book with your name on it, she said. Your stuff out there, for people to read.

I love rhubarb and I can almost smell it, when I read your post :)

rilly super said...

interesting stuff, rhubarb, in Yorkshire it is anyway. Wensleydale gave birth to the only rhubarb related ASBO and down in Wakefield people flock from miles around to hear the stuff growing by candelight. Anyway, moving on lest I start to sound like that Madely character...

best of luck with the novel flowerpot dear. Sounds like you put your heart and soul into it and surely that's got to show to whoever reads it..

the rotten correspondent said...

I'm adding my voice to the other encouraging comments here. You've done an amazing thing in getting a book written. So many people talk about it but can't actually get the job done. Keep a postitive thought as you send it out and know that you've got quite a lot of people pulling for you.

You should be very proud of yourself.

Flowerpot said...

Dee - thanks so much for your heartwarming comments. I feel better already! And yes, I know exactly what your friend means (well done her by the way!) - it's all about recognition.

Rilly, fascinating stuff about the rhubarb - that sounds like an April Fools piece! Thank you so much for comforting words. I'll show the bastards.

Correspondent - you as well! My, I'm really chuffed. Let's hope They are too. Will keep you all posted and thanks so much for the encouragement - it means such a lot!

Motheratlarge said...

I know a bit of what you're talking about - I find it impossible to be detached about something I care deeply about and find rejection absolutely gutting. Maybe we all do but other people don't advertise it. Good luck with your novel. I wish I could offer more assurances of success, which unfortunately I can't, but I can say with confidence that you write so well and deserve every success with your book. Good luck, Flowerpot!

Flowerpot said...

Mother, thank you for that. Rejection isn't an easy thing to live with, yet as writers we live with it all the time. I find it easier to accept articles that are rejected - I suppose because you don't put so much time and effort into them. My books really are my babies. But thanks so much for your encouragement and understanding.