Fancy Yourself a Writer?

Writing a book is an incredibly hard thing. I fancy myself a writer but I have never properly finished writing a book. Sure, I’ve written drafts, but it’s a mammoth task turning a draft into something that flows with the smooth syrupy confidence of authentic maple syrup over some self-assured pancakes.

I have read plenty of books and judged them mercilessly. Some books feel cheap to me and I can SEE the potential in them, the words leap out in broken shatters, begging to be re-strung, imploring the author to please re-dress them, as they tumble about their pages in clumsy clusters. Some books just need a good editor.

Then there are other books that lift my feet right off the ground. I find myself amazed and defeated all at once. I find myself nursing an ache that won’t go away. How do people put pen to paper and release such magnificent things? Worlds and vivid imagery and passionate characters with all the dimensions of a kaleidoscope.

As an example, I was reading Ian McEwan’s Atonement, and when I reached the end I felt despair when I realised that he had attempted to dumb his novel down, since it was written by his heroine, Briony. I opened the first page of Gerald Durrell’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’ and was floored by the ushering in of a leaden August sky by a biting wind that blew out July. The life in their words seethe and sizzle on the faded pages on which they were printed. And I don’t know how. 

So yes. Writing a book is a very difficult thing. And I am sure the people who wrote the ‘badly written’ books must have thought that their books were ‘well written’, else they would be ashamed to have them out in the world. So, that begs the question, HOW do you know your writing is ‘good enough’?

 

Dream

This is my current dream:

I am walking past a huge Waterstones. And there, in the glass display, is a book written by me. Yes me. You see that? It says Lenora Sparrow on it. The cover design is simple and elegant. No pictures. Just a dark blue cover with little yellow dots all over it and the title in handwriting that is not too airy fairy and not too serious either.

And the blurb on the back makes me so excited because.. well.. I don’t know. I just love it and them and want to share them with you.

And there are lots of my book in stock. And all the signs say, ‘Hurry up and grab this book!’ and inside my heart is surging with joy because that is all I have ever wanted since I was seven years old writing stories in my dad’s university exam answer booklets.

I said to my parents, ‘Just you wait, I will have published a book by the time I am fifteen.’

They used to tease me and take my exercise books and read them to each other!! The audacity.

I wrote it, folks. That book I swore I would write. From age 11 to 14, I wrote it all out using dozens of pens. Seven massive notebooks, filled to the brim with words. Three huge folders with family trees and calligraphy signs and characterisation sheets and land naming and maps and paintings of what I think my characters look like.

I still have them. Shoved in the back of my gateway to Narnia.

I want to write a book that blows your socks off. I want to write a book that makes your heart ache with nostalgia and joy and the pleasure of meeting my people.

I want to write characters that will walk out of the pages and live in your mind and haunt your dreams.

But can I? And will I, EVER?

I walked past Waterstones today and there was a new book in there by a young woman not much older than me, and it’s famous already because she is a relatively well known Youtuber and it looks like a decent book, you know, because this girl actually has something decent to say.

And I felt so excited because it looks completely gorgeous and I have a feeling it is a heartbreaker, and I picked it up and read a few lines and well, I am happy for her, of course, but I am also a little bit jealous. I will definitely read her book because I like her content, and will support it.

It’s called ‘On the Other Side’ by Carrie Hope Fletcher.

I was jealous of Christopher Paolini who published Eragon at age fifteen. I thought, ‘I gotta beat this guy’ because I was thirteen at the time and I had two years ahead of me and I had three books under my belt.

But I didn’t send them to anybody. Because they weren’t good enough. Of course. They aren’t good enough. Nothing I have written is good enough. And I have a wonderfully electric story in my head but my fingers and brain will NOT collaborate to write it how my mind sees it and it is so FRUSTRATING because all I want is to have my books in shop windows and on bookshelves and to contribute to somebody’s childhood.

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