There are a hundred perfectly valid reasons why I shouldn’t try to become a professional novelist. Here’s just three:
1. Writing is hard.
2. Getting published is ridiculously hard.
3. I don’t know what I’m doing so I’m bound to fail.
There’s also the lack of time, funds and the crushing self-doubt to factor in too. It doesn’t help that the majority of articles, books and blogs you read come with a giant warning telling you that even if you manage to write and edit a brilliant manuscript, there’s an absolutely miniscule chance that anyone will ever read it. And if they do, they’ll probably hate it anyway.
For a long time I completely owned all of the above excuses. I was the excuse champion. So much that I decided that becoming a novelist was just too much of a momentous task me to even bother with.
I’ve always wanted to be an author, but I grew up thinking it was the same as aspiring to be Bon Jovi or an Oscar-winning actress. As in something other people, with incredible hair and heaps of talent do, but not me.
Now being realistic is very sensible. Despite my family’s wide-eyed expectation that I’ll someday become the next JK Rowling, I know I have more chance of winning the lottery than duplicating her success. And statistically I’m more likely to get hit by lightning than win the lottery, so there’s always that to look forward to.
But there’s a big difference between being realistic and giving up. And it’s something I’m only just learning.
I didn’t have any wonderful moment of epiphany where I realised ‘I could do it!’ and sailed off into the sunset toward open-armed editors and six-figure book deals, I simply started writing. And writing, and editing, and if I’m honest, a whole lot of deleting. I realised that it didn’t matter if I didn’t 100% know how to get a novel published (I still don’t!), or about the market I’m writing to or how to format a manuscript. I just focused on the story and writing one I thought was interesting. All that other stuff is just something for Future Carly to deal with somewhere in the distance.
I wrote my first 65K manuscript after years of false-starts and after finishing the final sentence I breathed a huge sigh of relief, re-read it and realised it was honestly pretty rubbish. But the first time I tried to apply mascara was similarly pretty horrific, so I decided to try again.
I’m now in the first stage of editing my second novel attempt and whilst I know it needs a lot of work, I do have something to work with and that’s something, right?