Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Saturday 15 March 2014

There’s Writing and then there’s Other Stuff

When I set out to write this blog I had a mission statement. 

OK, so it wasn’t really a mission statement. I thought I was going to write about writing. I added ‘And Other Stuff’ just to be on the safe side, just so that if I ever wanted to write about something other than writing I’d covered my arse and all you lovely people wouldn’t come complaining.

You all know the rest.

You all know that the blog is almost always about the other stuff.

It turns out I don’t have all that much to say about writing.

Perhaps I should.

The weird thing is that the blog seems to have a life of its own, and people seem to come here any way, and they seem to read it regardless of what I write about.

There are a lot of blogs about writing, and there are a lot of bloggers who are blogging their journey to publication. I guess the World doesn't really need one more of them.

My design for the cover of
Naming Names
This too shall change
I began the blog when my novel Naming Names earned a runner-up spot for the inaugural Mslexia novel prize. That was two years ago.

After a long round of working on commissioned writing, I am now back in the book. I’ve stripped it out and I’m writing new material for it.

It is a very different novel from the one I conceived four years ago, so different in fact that it has a new title. There are several new key characters, the format has changed and the book is vastly more commercial potentially at least.

Some authors feel that their novels are their babies, and, I suppose, to some extent that’s true. It’s certainly the case that I wrote Naming Names for myself.

I have an advantage over other writers, though, because I live with the husband, so I've learned some good lessons from him and, to some small degree, I've also done what he does. He writes to order. He has to pitch ideas and have outlines approved. He has to work within existing guidelines and all of these things give him discipline.

He has to get stuff right, and if he didn't, he'd have to go back to the keyboard, and if he still didn't, he wouldn't get paid, and he certainly wouldn't get more work. The husband is very good at what he does. He sets a fine example and he's taught me not to have an ego about these things. This stuff isn't personal

When Naming Names did so well in the Mslexia competition I was, of course, delighted. A little validation is a wonderful thing. I also got my first agent, which was a milestone. The book went out to virtually every publisher on the planet and nobody wanted it. It was too risky, too brutal, too difficult.

Here’s the thing though, rejection is something I’m used to, and I’ve been used to it for a long time. These rejections came with all sorts of wonderful praise for the writing, which was a bonus, but, still, no one wanted the book.

The answer to that is to write another book, a different book, or to make this book something someone would want to buy.

I’m planning to do both of those things.

I’ve got a small window of opportunity, and it is small, to do one of them, too small to write a novel at the moment.

So, right now, Naming Names is back in the game. I’ve cut about thirty-five thousand words, and I’m off in a different direction.

It’s lovely to be working on original material. It’s scary because the boundaries are all my own, and I’m not entirely sure where they are, but it’s also the best feeling in the World when it comes to work. It’s potentially the most rewarding work in the World, because this is all me, nothing begged, borrowed or destined to go back into someone else’s toy box. It’s also some of the hardest work in the World and some of the scariest.

I do bloody love it, though!

I’m going in!

Wish me luck.

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