Throwing away material without a sense of failure

When I finished my Masters in Creative Writing, three agents wanted to meet and talk about my novel. I remember thinking: I’ve made it!

Despite being tongue-tied in one interview, turning up a week early for another, and being paranoid about the third because her office was so impressive – all of them offered to represent me. What happened then was a fretful few days where I tried to allow for this all to sink in and make a decision.

They’d each given me different feedback on my novel, so I was not only assessing each agent as a person – how I thought our relationship would develop – but also the future of my writing, my ability to do what was being asked. I had no idea about anything.

This whole process has a resemblance to the actual writing of the novel – in that I started off with no expectation, but a strong belief it would work, and then at some point I was staring at an overwhelming amount of information with no idea what to do next.

I was lucky in that three talented individuals were prepared to take me on, but I made the mistake in believing the hard work was over, when it had only just begun.

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I had a discussion with one of the agents about where my novel should start. The narrative followed two characters, starting at the events that change the course of their lives, continuing on to the moment their lives cross – for an instant – and then driving on to the moment where they will, hopefully, cross once more.

The agent thought the novel should open at the moment of the characters’ first meeting. Or, more specifically, he wanted me to make up an entirely new moment of meeting and start the novel there. In technical terms in media res or, in the middle of the action.

Your start is a slow boil, he told me: it’s asking a lot of the reader to want to follow these two seemingly unrelated people as they embark on new journeys in their lives.

I didn’t sign with him because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do what he’d asked. He had such impressive authors on his books, I felt sure that once he saw I was incapable, he’d lose interest and I’d be relegated to leaving messages for him with his assistant.

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I’ve been thinking about all this recently: firstly, where your story should start; secondly, whether this should be determined by the author, or the reader; and thirdly, the experience of starting again with a book!

I spent two years running a literary event in London. Once a month, a team of writers and I chose new talent to read beside an established author. We received dozens of submissions and I found the reading a chore, but can’t deny the learning experience. Too often I’d turn the pages, thinking: this story hasn’t started yet and I’m nearly halfway through! Your reader won’t be interested in the back story, if they don’t know why this history is so important, which can only be revealed by the moment in the present where the past has caught up. This is to do with a skill in structuring, which Alice Munro’s short stories have in abundance. Read any of those in The Progress of Love and you’ll see how effortlessly she starts in the middle of something and manages to continue with that forward impetus, while feeding in the past. Raymond Carver is another master at this. His stories are very different to Munro’s: hers are like miniature novels, their worlds are so complete, but Carver’s are a sketch – powerful for the juxtaposition of acute observation and minimalism.

Carver hated tricks.

‘At the first sign of a trick or a gimmick in a piece of fiction, I tend to look for cover’, he said.

This is most relevant to me in a story’s opening. I can get a sense of when a writer is manipulating an image to ‘lure’ the reader in. I’ve written ‘lure’ like that because often I find that a writer thinks they’re being very clever with this or that device, but what they’re really doing is assuming their reader is dumb. This is where my first two points of discussion converge – deciding where the story starts and how much this should be to do with the reader.

Putting some kind of stunt into a beginning is treating the reader as an idiot: an opening line of description that has the sole purpose of impressing; or a clear indication that something truly, terribly, hideously awful has happened, and don’t you really want to know what it is? Well, if you do you’ll have to keep reading until the very end, thank you very much.

Carver is clear when he says: ‘Any strategy that keeps important and necessary information away from the reader in the hope of overcoming him by surprise at the end of the story is cheating.’

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So, how do we go about starting a story and drawing a reader in by good, honest skill alone?

In Aspects of the Novel, E M Forster describes the great age of the narrative:

Neanderthal man listened to stories, if one may judge by the shape of his skull. The primitive audience was an audience of shock-heads, gaping around the campfire, fatigued with contending against the mammoth, and only kept awake by suspense. What would happen next? The novelist droned on, and as soon as the audience guessed what happened next, they either fell asleep or killed him.

If I read a novel that starts with the intention of creating suspense, a part of my curiosity is aroused, but there’s another part of my brain that says (sighing): yes, I see what’s being done here. I’m not enthralled, but merely sidetracked, and I will flick the pages as a matter of course – a means to an end – rather than handling each one with gratitude, turning them as if in a dream, with no means of stopping.

‘Beauty is not a means,’ William Maxwell said. ‘It is not a way of furthering a thing in the world. It is a result; it belongs to ordering, to form, to aftereffect.’

Just as it doesn’t work to write a beautiful opening sentence to ‘show’ the reader that we’re superb writers, we cannot open with an intention of creating suspense. What we can do is work out our story, discover it – the parts that are background, the parts that are the important, active present. Once we have the whole picture, we can then choose a moment in that picture and present it to the reader. If we have gone about this with sincerity, we end up with a moment that is rich with history and full of potential. It’s one piece among many: a result, rather than a means.

This is why we don’t have to be afraid of starting again.

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Back when I was meeting those agents, I was nervous about reworking my novel because I still hadn’t stopped to think about what it had taught me. Analysis travels back through the story, but I was still the writer – working in the opposite direction. I didn’t want to have to retrace my steps back into my work, along a path that tapered to a microscopic point – that ‘invisible’ influence on which the novel was based. I was mesmerised by the space that I saw opening in front of me. Three agents wanted to represent me – I was now thinking about publishers.

And then I heard from those publishers:

‘I found the descriptions rich and evocative, but I prefer a narrative with more focus and direction. Sorry not to love this one, but I hope there will be more!’ I got from Quercus.

‘It’s a charming story, and I can see it making a lovely film, but I fear we would struggle to make a splash with it in the market, and therefore I’m going to have to pass. I would love to see whatever Gabriela does next, however.’ (Bloomsbury)

I do agree with you that Gabriela has talent though, even if I did find THE SILVER BUMBLEBEE to be a little overwritten at times; and therefore if you don’t sell her this time around, I’d be very interested to see what she comes up with next.’ (Little Brown)

It goes on.

It was time to start again. Throwing away material, recasting characters – these things can come without a sense of failure. We grow by making these evaluations of our work. We are practising the writer’s craft. The difference is that this time round I’m beginning in the middle of the action – no slow backstory as I try to find my way, just all the tools I’ve learnt so far. The most important is that the perfect mood in which to write doesn’t always present itself. It’s the writing that creates the state of mind, a means to move beyond insular thinking. There are days when my spirit is as fragile as a wafer, but by sitting down, trusting, I can feel myself growing, connecting, living.

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Last year, whilst I began researching my new book, I launched this blog: I wanted a motivation to write that wasn’t about finishing a novel, worrying about what my agent wanted, or fitting in with what a publisher was looking for.

Several months in, I remembered what it was about writing that I love – storytelling – and I knew I’d keep on writing, no matter what.

In my final year of primary school, the sixth form were given a space in the basement to use as a common room. I’d settle people down in the musty, sagging armchairs, dim the lights and tell stories. I remember how I tip-toed around the room, feeling my audience and guiding them through these tales. For years I’ve taught about the writer’s voice, on and off the page, hosting workshops that look at why we write what we do, and how to bring those words alive for a listening audience.

That’s what we need to focus on as writers – a love of the story, a dedication to telling it without tricks; and we should never be afraid of redrafting, going back to the beginning. A writer discovers what he wants to say in the continual process of seeing what’s been said.

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About gabrielablandy

Some history, a bit of fiction, with me in there somewhere.
This entry was posted in Essay, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

82 Responses to Throwing away material without a sense of failure

  1. Elizabeth Sarkany says:

    really enjoyed this piece Gabs – thankyou! xx

  2. Lets be honest, I can hardly get my head round the fact that you have three agents interested in you. I have trouble interesting the green grocer. I love your analysis of what publishers seek, and the knowledge you are gaining, and your confidence. It is inspiring.

    • I know it sounds crazy when – like you say – most people are finding it hard to get one agent interested. But it wasn’t necessarily a good thing to happen. My head got very big and I made some bad decisions. I’m only just now at the point where I can say: okay, so I’ve learnt something here, and I’m able to move on to working on another book.

  3. letizia says:

    I love your understanding of the creative process. I think it was Toni Morrison who once said that writing is 90% editing. I’m not sure I agree with the percentage but I do agree with the emphasis on editing and rewriting, as difficult as that can be at times. Wonderful post, as always.

  4. I’ll be chewing on this for a while.

  5. Laurel says:

    Great, great post. Thank you for sharing your experience and insight.
    LOVE this “A writer discovers what he wants to say in the continual process of seeing what’s been said.”

    • Thanks Laurel!! In terms of that line – it’s such a relief to have got to a point where I can see the positive side in redrafting. I always thought having to edit showed that I’d failed, and that when I was a ‘better’ writer, there would be less redrafting. But now I see that each time we learn, so it’s a good thing!

  6. Wonderful post. 3 agents!!! (That deserved 3 exclamation marks).

    It’s such a difficult balance isn’t it, you want to hook the reader from the start, but you don’t want to do it in a manipulative way. I guess it’s a skill to be developed like any other, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.

  7. Really liked this post! So interesting to follow your journey through agents and publishers and how to revise your story to make it better and meet your goals. Is the Silver Bumblebee published yet, or are you still working on it? I love your writing and look forward to reading your novel. The process of writing can be so daunting. How to tell when the agents/publishers/critics are right about what needs changing, or determining that the work just hasn’t reached its audience yet, the agent/publisher/readers who will love it the way its written now–it’s so subjective. But the part about finding a way to enthrall the reader–isn’t that what we all want? To write our story in a way that captures the reader, heart and soul, and takes them on a journey they wouldn’t miss for the world. Sigh. So hard.

    • So glad you enjoyed this. The Silver Bumblebee is in my desk drawer! Although the publishers were fairly positive, it was clear that none of them thought it was worth another edit – they wanted something new, which is what I am doing. So, you’ll have to wait a while before you can read my novel. In the meantime, I shall continue to work on that way to enthrall my future reader!

  8. I had this happen to me with my first novel, written when I was too damned young, only 21. Now, the obvious thing to say is, ‘oh, that means you’re a genius,’ etc., but in fact, it was a terrible experience and I ran away. I just ran–I was not in any way ready for that level of attention. I know now that that kind of attention can come too fast, way before the inner person is ready to deal with the outcome or responsibiilities. Listen, you have to structure these experiences, and don’t be afraid to ask others for advice on how to handle each step of the journey. Agents are not publishers, and when they take you on, they take you on with the attitude of “Can I sell this person and their story to a specific publisher who I know is looking for XYZ?” Also, agents have their preferred writing style and subject matter. Basically, when you sign on to an agent, as you say, the work is only just beginning, and reshaping your writing so that it works FOR THE AGENT is a chore-and-a-half, and *then* you still have to work with the publisher. So the best things to do are a) expect this; b) pace yourself; and c) ask for help. You never have to go through this alone, and it’s a mistake to try to do so. Best wishes, take some more writing classes, learn to focus your energy and your subject matter, learn structure. Those would be my pieces of advice. 🙂 And you can always contact me; it’s my job to work with writers in these positions nowadays (so that people do not have to go through what I went through, which ended up being very bad for my writing).

    • Thanks for your kind words. I really appreciated your insights here. You are right in that the key is to get as much advice as possible, and it’s great to have found your site, which I can call on if needs be. 🙂

      • yes, please do, and best wishes. Don’t run away from your agents… sit with at least one of them and ask them, how do I make these changes? Agents frequently are writer-wannabes, or at the very least, have spent their lives reading in your genre, and they have good reasons for making the suggestions they do. Just don’t give up, because that’s the worst feeling in the world, to have disappointed one’s self like that, when given these opportunities.

  9. After this novel, you should write a book about writing. 🙂 I’d buy it!

  10. diannegray says:

    Please don’t give up on the Silver Bumblebee, Gabriela! Get it out of that drawer, read through it and then send it out again (or self publish it!). I’m sure there are plenty of us who would love to read it 😉

    It’s fine having agents and publishers, but in the end we write because we love writing. If people like our writing that’s just the icing on the cake. You’re obviously very talented – so get to it, regardless of what other people think you should do or how and what you should write 😀

    • Oh, Dianne, thanks for your encouragement. I really feel honored. Yes, I agree that we write because we love it. The catch is that I wrote The Silver Bumblebee because I had to, and I know that’s why it failed. It was a story written for the sake of it, rather than the love. At the time I was writing short stories and my tutors kept pushing me towards starting a novel, and in the end I gave in. So, I guess what I am saying is that I’m not sure that I want to dust it off. Though I do have plans to turn it into a script – a lot of the publishers agreed in that it would make a great film. In the meantime, it’s back to short stories and a novel that I have discovered in me, which I do love!! Love it when you stop by 😉

  11. This has given me some serious food for thought now that I’ve gone back to revising my novel – already made me think that I may have a couple of superfluous chapters at the beginning, thanks!

    • Often that superfluous stuff at the start is us ‘warming up’ and investigating the situation. It is painful to cut, but often leaves you with something far punchier! My writing group is always telling me to distil, and I read yesterday – though I can’t remember where – that we would all do right to cut a third of our writing. Ah, I think it was Hilary Mantel. She should know!! Thanks for popping in and commenting.

  12. annewoodman says:

    Gabriela, It was very interesting to read about your journey so far and your success with the agents (yes, lots of success–3!).

    I wholeheartedly agree about the starting in the middle of the action but not wanting to use a gimmick–I am stunned at how often this tactic is used.. and as a reader, I do end up feeling… used. I think writers who employ a “trick” often do feel very clever, but I have come to believe that they’re not trusting that the story itself is enough. There doesn’t have to be a huge surprise for every reader to feel enthralled.

    I never thought I would write a blog, but I started mine for the same reason you started yours. And I thought it would be a nice distraction. But the fun part is that I have learned quite a bit about timing, storytelling and my own writing mistakes through my blog posts! Who knew?!?!

    I’m glad you started posting. ; )

    • Yes – the more we trust the story, the less we rely on devices! And, I love the way you put it about how you feel when coming across a gimmick – used. So true! Hilary Mantel is very clear on this in her memoir: ‘Trust your reader, stop spoon-feeding your reader, stop patronising your reader, give your reader credit for being as smart as you at least, and stop being so bloody beguiling: you in the back row, will you turn off that charm!’ I’ve been thinking about putting this on a sign to hang above my desk!
      I’m thrilled you’re glad I started posting. I’m glad I found your blog. And I agree – what a learning experience, writing these posts are. For me, actually finishing something every week is such a lesson in craft.
      Thanks for the chat 😉

  13. Voula Grand says:

    Really interesting…. especially as I’ve been working (again) on the first chapter of a completed manuscript, to make more of a hook… now I feel tempted to stick with the beginning I had. Or maybe not….

    • Hi Voula – lovely to meet you. Interesting position you’re in!! To hook or not to hook! I’ve actually put a lovely quote in my reply to the comment above you – by Hilary Mantel. Have a look. If there’s anyone’s advice I want to take right now it’s hers! What are your two different openings? I’m intrigued now…I’m just off to London to teach a workshop, but I shall have a little nose around your blog tomorrow and see if I can find out more. Thanks for visiting – hopefully see you again!

      • Voula Grand says:

        Nice to meet you Gabriela, and I see we are both Birkbeck MACW alumni! I was there 05 – 07, how about you? I love Hilary Mantel’s comment!
        Here’s the two openings:
        “The cobweb of anxiety that enveloped Honor every morning at breakfast time settled around her like a pale shroud.”
        OR
        “Mary, Mary. Contrary just didn’t cover it: she was intractable, Honor’s weekly burden, her failure.”
        OR…. something else that I haven’t thought of yet!

      • Oooh – just rushing out to teach. I’ll get back to you 😉

      • Hi Voula, having sneaked around your blog, I love the sound of your work, and what praise you’ve received for your writing. It’s clear that you’ve found a lovely relationship between your writing and professional work. One of my favourite writers from the Birkbeck course had similar training and it made her work such a clever mirror of people and their patterns – and their shadows as you say. I read your two sentences before I went off to teach: a workshop on the writer’s voice on and off the page. The whole time I think your words were going through my subconscious. As a result I’ve got a great deal of feedback – but it has also crossed your mind that it might not have been your intention to receive a word by word commentary when you posted those lines. I’ll leave it up to you to let me know if you want my advice!!!

  14. Amy Knapp says:

    Really interesting to learn a little more about you, Gabriela.

    • This is certainly the place where I make my confessions. Funny – when I first started writing this blog I was a bit put out that very few friends were reading it. Now, I like it that people I’ve never met are finding out more about me that those around me know!! Thanks for your thoughts, Amy.

  15. killkaties says:

    After reading this wonderful post, it finally came to me who it was reminiscent of. The perfect choice of words, the efficient lack of redundancy, the feeling that the writer knows what they want to say and exactly how they want to say it… You are the journalistic work of George Orwell and I claim my five pounds.

    • Arghh my head is growing very enormous!! I’d pay five pound for a compliment like that any day. Quite weird actually because just yesterday I discovered a quote by George (I can call him by his first name, seeing as I am him!): good prose is like a window pane. This is something I think I’ve been trying to do. Now, I know that I can because it’s my own idea! Thanks, as always for stopping by and injecting your fun self into the chat here. 🙂

  16. Hi Gabrela. I really liked your piece. I don’t have any formal training in writing, so appreciate the nuggets that you’ve gleamed from your formal education and reflections in everyday practice. I need a lesson in “structure,” for my own (very unfinished) book.

    • Thanks for your appreciation. Yes, structure is one of the hardest ones. I do recommend that collection by Alice Munro to give an interesting take on how to structure. And do feel free to pick my brain some more if you have any specific queries. Have you a novel plan, or did you just begin writing to see where it went?

  17. An interesting post, Gabriela. Jo

  18. Very interesting Post Gabriela ( I expect nothing less from your creativity and knowledge) 🙂 The balance is difficult. They say you must enthral your readers in the first paragraph – no pressure at all really is there? I wish I could start on my dusty novels on my hard drive – but I lack the commitment and have done for some time. That is why I am here – why I write for the love and the joy of it all. I tried to get Agents for my Memoir – alas I either don’t have the information I require to obtain a decent one, or my searching is half hearted. I think the later. Keep going and as Di said re-do, you have so much talent and readers would be clambering to see your work. If these Agents aren’t interested – think of self publishing? It’s not the road we wanted to travel, but it could be a little path that leads to one. Thank you for this. 🙂 xx

    • I like that thought of yours at the end, which is about being on a path that will eventually lead into the road. That’s what I feel this blog is. When I started it I had no intentions other than to write and see, but I’ve found something here, which is helping with my other writing. I’m happy for The Silver Bumblebee to stay in the drawer for now, but when I finish my next book, I think the blog and my followers will help me decide what to do. As always – thanks for your thoughts on this. You never fail to bring a smile to my face.

  19. I really liked this article! (:

  20. Pingback: Am I a Writer if I’m Writing a Dissertation? | A Daily Journal of my Comp/Rhet Dissertation

  21. gotasté says:

    I can’t be sure if it is the same like TV. Art and creativity is very subjective. There are millions of readers out there with different preference. I’m sure even crappy stuffs are read by the minority. So it’s all down to the business and money making that art and creativity is being “challenged” or “advised” for the “sponsors” to fit into their money making strategies….if this is true, it’s the same for TV…Although I’m a creative director, my ideas are often being challenged by the top management, sales people and clients. But that same idea will often win a creative award for the company. So all we can do is to believe in ourselves and keep creating. 🙂

    • I love how you are bringing film making into this discussion, Danny. I always get inspiration on how to structure my writing from watching films. I think the two cross over very helpfully. Your point about different preferences is so true. There is a market for everything! It seems like you’ve had experience of true creativity winning, which is encouraging for me to hear. Whenever I find that I’ve lost my way, and I am worrying about the market – I suddenly realise that all I can do is be true. As you say, believe in myself. We can’t know really what people want – even top management can’t really know. So yes, keep creating. Thanks for the thoughts on this one. Great points to add to the discussion.

  22. I had to laugh reading this, Gabriela – and I loved the reference to Alice Munro. She does such an amazing job of plunking you right in the middle of her stories and filling it in as you go – she’s always been one of my major influences. Your words are especially prescient for me because I’m in the middle of my second novel (well, my third, but the first hasn’t been published) and I’m finding myself layering in lots of backfill near the beginning. Your thoughts will help me get out the hedge clippers and start pruning.

    Someone asked me about my writing process and I explained it this way: you go for a hike with your dog – a good long one – and by the time you arrive at your destination, that dog has followed her nose down a hundred side trails and covered five times the distance you have. Well, I’m that dog. My readers may not know all the side trips I’ve made to reach my destination, but the things I picked up along the way have found their way, at some level, into my writing. And enriched it.

    Think of all those hedge clippings as mulch. Good for future growth.

    • Hi Sheila – what great thoughts and images you bring here. I think your analogy is absolutely perfect. The great thing about having the image of a dog, racing around – is that he’s absolutely having fun! I think often we forget to enjoy ourselves along the way. Make the mulch and smile about it! Thanks for your wisdom 😉

  23. rowena says:

    Lots of food for thought, thanks. It’s all in the beginning, it seems these days, and I really struggle with that – I’ve recently stopped trying to restructure my completed novel because my heart just isn’t in trying to make it start with more of a ‘backflip with twist.’.

    • Yes, the beginning is important. But the point is you don’t have to do the backflip and twist! If we focus on that then all we feel is how impossible it all is. And artificial. I don’t know if you bake, but when I start a piece I imagine I have a piping bag. I have to squeeze a bit out, see some of it explode with trapped air bubbles and then at some point it starts to emerge smooth. Then I go back to the beginning and begin to read it through and find a sentence that is full of good information and is thus intriguing for that fact. I cut what’s at the start, and anything that I think is worthwhile I put in later. The other thing is that if you’ve lost heart, leave it for a while. Wait till you get a fresh perspective. Eudora Welty talks about a short story she was having trouble with in her book ‘On Writing’. ‘What changed my story was a trip. I was invited to drive with an acquaintance, one summer day, down south of New Orleans to see that country for the first time; and when I got back home, full of the landscape I’d seen, I realised that without being aware of it at the time, I had treated the story to my ride, and it had come into my head in an altogether new form. I set to work and wrote the new version from scratch.’ Good luck! And thanks for visiting 😉

  24. Pingback: Throwing away material without a sense of failure « Pdlyons's Weblog

  25. pdlyons says:

    Great piece of info and inspiration. cheers!

  26. Eve says:

    All good points to remember, Gabs, and timely for me. I wrote a short story a while ago about a childhood event and tried to manipulate its meaning. It didn’t work. I saw a competition for a short memoir and told it ‘true’, being honest about why I still remember this small event 35 years later and it worked (I hope!) much better. I also ditched a lot of it without any sense of wasted time or effort, knowing that the deleted details weren’t necessary and it was ok to lose them. BTW have you ever tried to steal from Alice Munro? I have and my effort was woeful!!

    • Have I seen that story in it’s original form? I think I have. And yes – I have written many stories, which have then become something completely different in later drafts, but the experience has taught me so like you say it’s not wasted. As for stealing from Alice Munro – are you insane!!!

  27. I really appreciated this, and recognised a lot in it. I had a long spell of rewriting in dialogue with my agent (and ended up with a far better book). But in the process i think she lost faith in my ability to write the book she thought I would write, and I lost confidence in her judgement and readiness to back me. So I went back to my own thing, published it myself and am working on some new stuff. It may be self-indulgent but I don’t need the money and I want ot write the stories I want to read!

    • Interesting experiences you’ve had. It’s great that you were able to make the decision to leave your agent who you felt was stiffling you. Most of the writers I teach think that getting an agent is everything and wouldn’t consider going it alone, as you have. I agree with you in writing the stories you want to read. So much of what I write now is based on what I wished I could have read when I was looking for advice.

  28. Thomas says:

    Wonderful post! As a high school student and aspiring writer it’s great to know that there are others out there who continue to persevere after having to toss out some old work – I’m sure the experience has made you a stronger writer and a more knowledgeable person overall!

    • You’ve said it Thomas – we learn from these experiences. That’s why trying to be perfect the first time around teaches us nothing, and only limits what we will produce. Let me tell you that every writer goes through this – I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have to throw something out. Thanks for your comment.

  29. Mayumi-H says:

    (I’m here from Vanessa Chapman’s blog; sorry it has taken me so long to come round!)

    I love the honesty of this post, Gabriela, and what it says about why we write: to be storytellers. I also appreciate (greatly! genuinely!) your straightforwardness about what can work in stories, and when it might be time to take out a hatchet and start fresh…and how that process does not have to be painful, but beautiful, in its own way. Even though I’m not as enamored about representation and publishers as I might have once been (maybe I want to publish one book, maybe just print up some nice copies for myself and pass it around to friends), your insight into the process of creating the best story possible is invaluable advice. Thank you!

    I must add you to my official follow list, now! 😀

    • Hi – thanks for stopping by and giving such thoughtful comments. What’s lovely each time you get feedback on a post is how it works on so many levels and can offer something for everyone. I can understand why you’re not so enamored about representation. I find myself unable to make my mind up about it. Having this blog, and people following and giving comments such as yourself, is such validation. I’ve had lots of short stories published, but I never hear from my readers. This feels far more worthwhile. Thanks for following! See you around 😉

  30. I am struggling with the sequencing of something I’m currently working on and found this very helpful. Thank you!

    • So glad you got some use out of it. It always amazes me when I’m reading blogs that I always seem to find one that is relevant to me and what I’m working on. I’m going to do a more detailed post on structure later this month so keep that in mind if you find you need more clues. 😉

  31. This is a great post. For my own part I experienced a fair few rejections ten years back with a short novel I wrote for children. Then I quit. Yet, the desire to write never left me and finally, I have thrown myself back in – at the deep end this time because I quit my job. But finally, at 42 years of age I have found my passion and I know that even if no one ever buys a word I won’t/can’t stop. That is when it hits you. You are doing what you love and this is what you were born for, even if the financial coffers are empty, I am full. Complete. I don’t know what it’s like to work with agents yet but this was an eye opener. Especially learning that my work isn’t done when I get one!! 😀 Thank you X

    • You’ve got it Heather – that moment when you’ve got past all the doubt and fear and now you’re writing and won’t ever stop. Nice one!! And yeah, hate to say it, but there’s still a way to go after you’ve got the agent. But at least if you find a good one then you’re not working on your own any more.

  32. Ron Herron says:

    Since I started my own blog “Painting With Light” some of the nicest moments I have are in discovering other great sites like yours. Thanks for your comments on mine, and for the insightful copy on yours. I’ll be back … often.

  33. Thanks so much for this wonderful post! It gave me a great deal to think about as I work on my novel.

  34. I’m very new to both writing and WordPress so I’m still getting my feet wet here. I’ve enjoyed the couple of entries I’ve read so far and seems your site could be a great learning tool as well as enjoyable. Thank you.

  35. Pingback: Learning From Practise – 5 Fiction Writing Tips Learnt from Trial and Error | bardicblogger

  36. Hi Gabriela, I only write for my artistic/personal development, so reading this post has enlightened me about the technical barbs that correspond to the career writer. I come here because you are gifted in giving glimpses of your internal world as you make your way through each external challenge that presents itself.

    Wish the world could focus more upon that inner world of beauty and less upon marketing.

    • I love that phrase ‘technical barbs’ – so apt! Your visits, and comments are a real pleasure – to catch sight of you, moving through my words, taking the time to write back. Your last sentence is exactly what drives me – I hope with this blog to prove that one can be a writer, and just write from the heart, with no heed of the sell. Thank you.

  37. Pingback: Shockproof shit detector: the editor’s perspective | Gabriela Blandy – The sense of a journey

  38. “A writer discovers what he wants to say in the continual process of seeing what’s been said.”
    I love this. This is exactly what I’m just starting to figure out. For years I thought I was a die-hard outliner, but now, through drafting and redrafting and drafting some more, I’m finally seeing the true story emerge, and I realize that maybe I can’t be so sure of myself in that way, to presume that I can “outline” and know all this stuff I want to say before I say it. Maybe the true story was always there, buried in my subconscious, unearthed only through endless drafting.

    I recently blogged about this very subject, inspired by this article in The Atlantic:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/06/theres-no-such-thing-as-good-writing-craig-novas-radical-revising-process/276754/

  39. Ollie says:

    Very glad to have followed Vicky Grigg’s tweet and found your blog. Enjoyed your post as well as the comments! Look forward to watching The Silver Bumblebee on Netflix/Lovefilm/the local cinema one day. 🙂

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