Today I am writing my 200th blog.
I’m not quite sure I believe that. It seems to have come round awfully quickly.
200 days ago, I learned that I was going to be a writer, after all. I learned that I had come second in the Mslexia novel writing competition for my novel “Naming Names”.
Since then I have secured a very lovely agent, started a second round of edits on the book, and had some interest in reading the novel from four mainstream publishers. I’ve also outlined a second novel to follow the first, and I’ve become ambitious.
I was wondering what to write for this blog. I wanted to write something useful, something interesting, something significant, but it’s only now, with my laptop on my knees that I know what it is I want to say.
It is this.
If the last two hundred days have taught me anything, it is to know my own value.
Creative types, and I think this is true of us all, not just writers, fall into two broad categories: those who believe that they are good and those who believe that they’re a bit rubbish.
They seem to fall into these two categories pretty well regardless of what they actually know about what they are capable of. Unfortunately for the World, there are a very great many writers who are not terribly talented, who believe themselves to be very good indeed. They have a tendency to clog up all the artistic byways for everyone else, taking up the time of readers and agents, producing awful, self-published nonsense, and generally getting in the way. It’s easy for me to say that they should stop it, right now, but we all know that’s never going to happen, and all we can do about it is blog and sigh.
There are good writers, who know that they’re good, but who remain undiscovered, and even some who are being paid to write, who still believe they’re a bit rubbish. It doesn’t matter what you do or say for those people, they will always struggle with their confidence. While they are writing, no doubt they have great moments of clarity, creativity and inspiration, but when it comes to promoting themselves and their work, I suspect it all becomes rather difficult.
Before the Mslexia prize, I knew that I could write. I knew that I was good, and yet, for various reasons, some of them to do with self-esteem, I never believed that I would see “Naming Names” in print. That has changed.
I wrote on this blog the other day that modesty is an attractive trait, and I still believe that to be true, but I am, I think, rightly proud of my first novel.
“Naming Names” is a worthy runner-up to the Mslexia prize. I am a good writer, and I know it, and I should celebrate that fact. If I am going to make a success of this, and I hope that I am, I’m not going to do it by being self-deprecating, because writing a good book isn’t nothing. Writing a good book takes a good deal of talent, drive and discipline, and that’s only the beginning.
When I’m required to read out chunks of my novel at festivals, answer questions for interviews, or sign books in shops I’d like to be able to do it with a certain grace and charm. I’d like to be able to do it without my hand shaking, and with a genuine smile on my face. If I know that the book is good, that the cover price is well worth paying, and that people will be glad they bought it, the battle will be won.
So, yes, I am a good writer, and I wrote a good book, and I’m not afraid to say so.