Saturday, June 11, 2011

What does being a novelist mean? A - K Guide

This post is a couple of months old but I figured maybe now is a good time to revisit it again seeing as how I have entered the role of editing, editing and yes you've guessed it editing!

As I am now 100% through writing a novel, albeit a first draft, I got to thinking about what being a novelist could mean.

Could it mean someone who has been published, someone who has achieved acclaim and recognition for being able to write a story long enough to fill 300 plus pages which people want to spend their well earned money on?  You having created a fictional world for another person's pleasure?

It sounds good, in fact it would be almost perfect except for a few things.  Firstly no one writes primarily for another person's pleasure, it is solely because they want to write, and I have heard it is also because some people don't feel they have any choice but to write.  Mad but true certainly in my case.  Secondly, the fact that a novel is published should not discriminate against all the novels of merit which have been created but for whom publication for whatever number of reasons did not happen.  And thirdly, and by far the most important reason, it is because after spending nearly five months of writing my little socks off (all 120 of them) and spending more time with my fictional characters than my friends and family, it has to be a description that I can now use having finished the blasted thing even if it is only first draft!

So I got to defining what I think being a novelist really means.

A. It means you are someone who is capable of living in a parallel universe of your own starting with a single letter on a page and ending up with around 100,000 words.

B. It means you are someone who is prepared to write even when it is the last thing you want to do.

C. It means you are someone who despite asking yourself the question, 'is this all worth it?' you keep writing anyway.

D. That you stop being afraid that whatever you create isn't worthwhile and concentrate on just doing it.

E. That you create characters which you believe in to the extent that you spend hours working out what they are thinking.

F. That you ignore the fact that the possibility of being published is so remote that it is never going to happen to you.

G. That you invest an amazing amount of time in something that once it is finished and edited to the equivalent of a size 14 becoming a size 'zero', that it will more than likely be rejected by many, including all the publishers you send it away to.

H. That in the event you surpass the extreme odds against being published, that you will probably never make enough money to live on your own income, unless of course you enter the 'one in a million lottery type zone,' like JK Rowling or the like.

I. And that despite everything you are prepared to cross that line of 'your dream becoming a reality', by finishing the thing and not languish in the surreal wonderful bliss, of planning to do it someday!

J. And more importantly that at the end of writing the first draft of a novel you can call yourself a novelist become you have done it,

Irrespective of anyone wanting to publish it
Irrespective of anyone wanting to read it
Irrespective of it being a work of literary genius
& finally because,

K. You have been capable of fighting off all the doubts, fears, boredom, laziness and general excuses for not doing it, and have a 400 page yoke by, yes you guessed it, a 'NOVELIST.'

It's official, I am now completely nuts!
  But then again so are most of my best friends!


  1. Oh, you are indeed a NOVELIST! Think of all those folks who are still saying they are going to do it and haven't even started and most likely never will. Well done, I say! Well done!


  2. Please tell me why you are called 120 socks. I've been dying to ask.

  3. Hats off! One hell of an achievement.

  4. Enjoyed reading this Socks!! Writing a novel is heartbreaking but glorious in its "just doing it" purest essence and I think you've captured it there.
    Almost makes me want to embark again... Thanks!

  5. Thanks Kat, 120 socks came to be after a writers weekend with Various in september,who convinced me to start a blog and as I had only just written a piece about the floor in my sons bedroom that had disappeared because of the number of items on it, including 120 socks that were not all matching, when it came to picking a name, it just jumped out. I am very fond of it now, so thanks son!

    Thanks Titus, I am honoured to receive this comment from someone who has a dog that can not only drive a car, but a bus with crazy poets on it as well!

    Niamh, thanks and go for it girl, the perfect time is always now!

  6. Great post Louise. I agree with you - it is a very personal process and you will have developed your skills and created something that has meaning for you - and that is more important than anything else that happens afterwards.

  7. Thanks David, and yes I think I have learned a lot by the process.

  8. If I can paraphrase your question, Louise. Are you a novelist because you've sold millions of copies of your book and made millions of Euros (despite the fact that they're rubbish) or because you get up every day, and put word after word because you feel YOU have to (even if it never sees publication)? I often think of someone like Kafka who wrote all these books but in his will specified that they not be published. Was he a novelist? I think we should always call ourselves writers, whether we're published or not. Could write a thesis on it, but you did a great job in your post.

  9. Thanks Derek, yes writers first, all the others are just tag lines I guess.

  10. And that despite everything, you are prepared to cross that line of 'your dream becoming a reality', by finishing the thing and not languish in the surreal wonderful bliss of planning to do it someday!

    Honestly, this is my favorite, Louise...because if I had a dime for eveyone who, upon learning I write, has told me they would 'love to write a novel someday' well, I'd have at least three dollars and fifty cents. The next person to say that to me will be very unfortunate.

  11. I bet they will be Cynthia! Another one I am not particularily fond of is the term, there is a novel in everyone! Thank you so much for the comment, and I am really glad you got something out of it! Keep Writing!

  12. Props to you 120 Socks or even 121 Socks . . . tee hee hee!


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