So, have you finished the novel yet?

This question kills me, even though I know it’s the obvious one to ask. The short answer is no. More than once I thought I had finished but it turned out I had only reached milestones along the way. The first draft took almost twelve months to the day. I have now been writing my first novel for two years, five months and forever.

My heart sank today when I heard it took veteran BBC journalist Kirsty Wark ten years to write her novel The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle. Ten years! She gave a talk at the Dalkey Book Festival in Dublin yesterday and I sent my spies along to find out what she had to say.

I’m curious to read her book, despite reading this bad review a few weeks ago, which was breathtakingly spiteful. The Irish Times reviewer actually said: ‘don’t give up the day job’.

Wark started ten years ago but had to put the book to one side because of family commitments until her youngest started university. My youngest hasn’t started school yet. How long before I can find time?

Maeve Binchy addressed this issue in the first page of her book on writing, The Writers’ Club.

“Time doesn’t appear from nowhere. You have to make it, and that means giving up something else. Regularly. Like sleep, for example, or drinking or playing poker, or watching television, or window-shopping or just lounging about with your family.”

As it is I do regularly give things up for writing. But what if I’ve been giving up the wrong things?

The time has come to question where the writing blog fits in here. Would Maeve Binchy ever have finished Light a Penny Candle if she’d been blogging about it? I’ve published more than 70 posts over eighteen months, an average of 500 words per post. That’s a lot of words, half a novel in fact.

Without further ado, I hereby declare this blog temporarily suspended – normal service to be resumed when my novel is finished. I hope to connect again with fellow bloggers and followers of the site when the time is right.

Have a great summer folks!

ps. here is a link to Ashra’ Wish, a story I wrote for children which has just been published on a new children’s stories website.

I'll be back.
I’ll be back.

15 thoughts on “So, have you finished the novel yet?

  1. Keep all those words for your novel. It took me an age to finish my first book too. To be honest I can’t remember which baby I was juggling with when I started it. Then I split it into three and the last part isn’t quite ready yet. The last baby is now thirteen!

  2. Yes, I know where you’re coming from, Clare! I think it’s very wise to take a break from blogging for the summer. The only thing I can give up in order to write at the moment is … sleep. And, oh, I am a sleeper – it’s going to be tough. However, I am being philosophical about the writing and seeing it in terms of a ‘career’ rather than a one-off job. This summer, I’ll push myself to continue submitting the first novel and producing 2-3 more short stories, whilst perhaps keeping the blog ‘alive’. We’ll see how it goes. Wishing you all the best. Off now to read your children’s story. PS: I think you’ll still be aroud on Twitter, no? 😉

    1. That sounds like enough to have going on this summer. Best of luck with the submitting. I’d like to be at that stage but it’s not without its trials of course.
      Twitter is short and sweet – not giving that up. See you there!

  3. Will miss your wise words, Clare, but look forward to reading them again in another ten years between the covers of a book. Have a good summer!

  4. It took me maybe six years to finish my novel, Tiger Tail Soup. By now, I can’t really remember. The first draft may have taken three years. (I revised a lot as I wrote.) Then there was the revision that took a year. Then another revision.

    Right now I’m juggling marketing my novel and writing my blog. I like writing the blog, but it does take up a lot of time.

    1. Congratulations on all the hard work. Revising is the tough part, isn’t it? But that’s what makes a novel work, makes it readable.
      I think I’ll be much more efficient on my next novel, having learnt so much since this process began. We’ll see …

  5. yes, it’s an awful question, isn’t it? I hate it just as much as “what’s your novel about?” I wish you all the success in the world in your new non-blogging, writing mode.

  6. Congratulations, Clare – just noticed you’ve been short listed for Best Blog of the Diaspora in The Irish Blog Awards 2014 – so well deserved. Good luck! Sx

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