Thursday, February 24, 2011

False Starts

So about that novel I keep talking about writing... Well. I'm not writing it. Not that particular one, anyway. I've come to the conclusion that it was a "false start" in the words of Louise Doughty, author of A Novel in a Year. It's this author who finally gave me the peace of mind, earlier this week, about abandoning this sinking ship of an idea for my first novel. She writes:

Very few people write a good novel on their first attempt. I certainly didn't. My first published novel was actually the third one I finished, and that's not counting the numerous false starts, often thousands of words long, novels that came to nothing after months of work. If you, too, have had those false starts, it's important not to get disheartened by them, and to remember that they are a necessary part of the process.

So, yeah. A false start. I've been plotting and researching for this story, but it just doesn't seem to be going anywhere. The thing is, the idea for this novel was to expand one of my completed short stories. It's a good short story, if I do say so myself. But I've come to the realization that it's meant to stay that way--short.

I'm not deterred, though, because I have other ideas for novels. I'm still determined to engage in the process (reading, free-writing, researching) of beginning a novel. I just need to find the right idea, among the several candidates swimming in my head.

"There ain't no rules around here, we're trying to accomplish something." Thomas Edison


  1. Man that is so true. I had 3 false starts before I finished my first novel. Keep up the hard work and it will happen.

  2. Oh best of luck! It's such a frustrating process I know, but I can't wait to see what you write.

  3. Reading this helped me so much. Thank you.

  4. Wordsmith, I'm so glad this was helpful. Reading Doughty's words helped me immensely! It's kind of funny, actually...I'm actually MORE excited about my first novel now that I've scrapped this first attempt.

  5. Now, you other lovely ladies--Valerie and Lauren--you inspire me so much! You've both engaged in the process and FINISHED your novels! Kudos! You guys are great encouragement, as well.

  6. Sorry this one didn't work out. I'd love to read the orginal short, though, if you care to share? :)

  7. Story of my life...I've been false starting for years, the same two novel ideas more or less too. I'll begin with a great new approach, all built up in my head, but as soon as it starts taking shape on the page, I'll hate it.

    I've only actually finished one novel and that was years ago and it was godawful. Still, I'm not discouraged, I love writing and I love the process of planning out a novel in my head and I too become more and more excited the more I try. Plus, I feel good about my new attempt...

  8. Alena, yeah, I'd love for you to read the short story and tell me what you think!

    Diego, I'm starting to realize that sometimes it's about timing. Sometimes you just can't write something until you can. Yay for the recent new attempt! You can do it!

  9. Well - I get this. Especially the bit about expanding on a short story. But I will not give up on mine. I'm glad it kind of stopped at chapter ten - because the other day I was reading in the sun and wallop! The story became complete in my head. Reasons for certain outcomes all seemed to fit. FINALLY! The proverbial light-bulb moment. I ran inside and wrote it all down on scrap before it swam away from my memory. Like things do to me all the time, and usually before I get chance to record!

    Of course, now I have to take this idea and run with it and get something down! But there is a reason I'm in the group for procrastinators! ;(

    Thanks for this Laura. Shah .X

  10. I can relate to this blog post (although I wish I couldn't!) Thanks for your honesty and optimism. (And I like the Thomas Edison quote too.) Hope you've found your right start...Karen



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