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A blog by Nikki Dudley about the gaps in everyday life...

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Sunday, 8 November 2009

Don't give up the day job

Of late, I've constantly found myself exhausted. After work, in the mornings, at the weekends. So when, oh when, am I supposed to write my next novel? After I found out my first novel, Ellipsis was under offer, I started two new novels. I wrote about 7,000-10,000 words of each and then came to a stop. Whenever I do get onto my laptop, I manage only a paragraph or two and I'm beginning to wonder, what is my problem?!

I can't tell if it is the adrenaline from getting Ellipsis ready for the publishers that stopped me. I got so wrapped up in the characters again when editing, I found parts I needed to refine, I found mistakes I hadn't noticed... All of it got me totally consumed once again. And at the same time, it almost felt like my characters were more real than ever. In 6 months, other people will hopefully pick up my novel and read about them, even form a connection with these characters? Therefore I wanted it all to be as good as possible. I hate when I'm reading a novel and it lets me down with a stray comment which doesn't fit, a description which is overwritten, bad dialogue. It may sound picky but really I'm quite a nice reader, I look for potential in most things. I also give writers at least two chances, even if I think the first book I read by them was average.

So will readers be kind to me? Who knows. I'm hoping my publishers will spot anything else but there's bound to be something, after all, no one is perfect. The daily newspapers are printed with mistakes in them every day. I find mistakes in novels, granted never particularly big ones, so I will be allowed a minor one or two right?

Yes typos are not great but worse than that will be if readers don't enjoy the characters or think they are unrealistic. I guess the expectation of realism comes with the genre, which I suppose for Ellipsis is best categorised as a 'psychological thriller' therefore expectations will probably vary in accordance with this, and some of the crazy things one of my characters is prone to doing will probably be enjoyed with the context surrounding it. And liking the characters, that's all about the story and if it gets them turning the pages. And I won't fully know that until readers get it in their hands.

It's all a matter of waiting I suppose. Responses so far have generally been positive but I guess all writers know that once it's out in the world, the writing really doesn't belong to you anymore. You can only hope that others will build a connection with it too, as you have with it, but only time will tell. Fingers crossed...

So I think my exhaustion has been both physical and psychological. As well as getting Ellipsis ready, I've found it hard to connect with the characters in my new novels. I guess that sounds strange but it's true. I think I've been holding onto Ellipsis a little, basking in all the work and editing it's been through to get to this point.

But it's time to move on! If only I could decide which novel to concentrate on, as trying to construct both at once will only make me exhausted all over again. Don't get me wrong, I love getting lost in the plots of novels (either as a reader or a writer) - it's absorbing, exciting and fascinating. My only problem is that I want everything to be as good as possible and now, I expect my work to get to a publishable standard. I guess perfectionists are their own worst enemy, as everyone knows.

Now to move on to the next novel. Provisional titles 'Mime' and 'Jump'- which one? Perhaps I should toss a coin...

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