As ever I started off the year with good intentions and I made some initial progress writing and submitting a couple of short stories. Then I turned my attention to my current novel in progress. I had rejoined the Romantic Novelist’s Association New Writer’s Scheme, and my aim was to edit a mostly complete first draft into something I was happy to submit for feedback.
Unfortunately this took a lot longer than I had anticipated. There was a lot to rewrite and some holes in the plot which needed some serious rethinking and which involved large amounts of writing from scratch. The novel is set in my home town, Chester, but takes place during the first few years of World War II. It follows the story of two sisters as they reach adulthood, struggling against the backdrop of war and the difficult relationship they have with each other.
By the time I had completed it, it was early August. I was happy with what I had done but was equally as happy to send it off and start work on something fresh. As it was close to the RNA deadline I anticipated a long wait for the feedback but this wasn’t a problem as I felt I needed some space from it. To my surprise the feedback came back only a week later. Not sure if this was a good sign or a bad sign, I nervously opened the document. Unfortunately, I think it was a bad sign. I’ve submitted a few novels though the NWS and always found the feedback to be detailed as well as constructive. Sadly, I found the feedback this time to be rather harsh. I’m not saying it was wrong, although there were some points I didn’t agree with, but I can honestly say I was devastated by how flawed she thought the novel was, both regarding character and plot, bearing in mind how much time and effort I had already put into it. I metaphorically put both the novel and the feedback away in a drawer until such a time when I can view it with more objectivity. When I do look at it again I’m sure I will be able to gain more from the feedback but at the time it just floored me. At the same time the short stories I had sent off earlier in the year were also rejected.
Maybe at this point a saner person would have decided to give up writing altogether but maybe I’m not sane. Instead I went back to my short stories, editing earlier ones and starting to write some new ones. I’ve also started to write a memoir on what it was like to have a brain haemorrhage and the effort it has taken to overcome it. I’m not sure the latter is something I will submit for publication or even self-publish but at the moment its something I feel the need to write. In order to get something down on paper I signed up for NaNoWriMo and so far it is working well for me. Eight days in and I’ve written 12,000 words.
As well as all this I dug out feedback from the NWS on a previous year. The feedback on this novel was much more positive and offered detailed suggestions on how to improve it. Its given me the inspiration to do some work on this too and so at the moment I’m feeling very positive. Long may it continue.