How long does it take to create a novel ? For me, a lifetime and 10 weeks.
I always enjoyed writing of one sort or another. Whether it was a diary, postcards, letters to pen friends, or a school essay. But I made a BIG mistake. I showed my work to those closest to me and I listened to them.
The first story I was ever really proud of was written when I was 11 and a half years old. I’m so precise because I remember I was in my first year at High School. The story started something like this...
Dawn was just breaking over the deserted airfield when the still morning air was shattered as the first Merlin engine roared into life.
A thick black cloud of aviation fuel spewed from the exhausts of the roaring beast!
(Spewing was at the top of my interest list when I was eleven and a half)
...and so it went on.
It was a story about an RAF bomber squadron during the Second World War preparing for a mission one misty morning. I remember it so vividly because to this day, I’ve no idea where it came from, and I honestly had to look it up to see if the engines in the Avro Lancaster were actually Rolls Royce Merlin’s (Merlin's also went into the P45 Mustang - American muscle at its best).
But the mistake I made was that I was too proud of it and I showed it to members of my family. They of course pooh-poohed it and wouldn’t believe I hadn’t copied it from somewhere. I loved what I had done, but I looked for family respect for my efforts. Which was never going to happen. Not in my family! It was the last time I put myself out there, until now.
I started writing a novel because I felt "a need" to tell a story. When I started, I had no idea where it was going. I had no plot, one character and I knew a dog was going to be in there somewhere (that’s in my genes). And 10 weeks later I had a novel. That’s all it takes, 10 weeks.
This time, I did it because I loved the process of creating something. I didn't tell anyone what I was doing until I was 150 pages in and only then because my family was questioning why I spent so much time on the laptop.
What I'm trying to say is, if you've ever felt the need to write someone a letter or email, or felt so moved by something you've seen or read and you feel you have to reply, then do it, do it now while the inspiration is fresh in your mind, while the iron is hot. And if you do write, do it for yourself. Do it because you want to, or need to or love to. And no matter what people say, keep doing it. Don’t waste a life regretting not doing it.
I believe it's man’s (generic) heritage, it’s in our DNA, it’s a part of what makes us human, it’s wanting to leave a mark on the wall, just as prehistoric people first left a hand print on a cave wall in France. It's wanting to be heard, wanting to make a difference, or reaching a point where that angel on your shoulder finally shouts "That's not right, stand up and say something." It's that first FB post, it's shouting into the ether, screaming into the wind, it's being human.
It’s not something learned. It’s something inherited... since forever.
So when you do get the urge to write something down, that bright idea, that half remembered dream, that letter of thank you to someone who’s really moved you, do it now before the inspiration is gone.
If you do tell anyone about it, be prepared to be laughed at. Take it on the chin, laugh yourself and carry on. Remember that jealousy is the most destructive of all human emotions, not only for those in the firing line, but also for everyone around. Please don’t ever make my mistake. Don’t ever hold back.
Funny story... I wrote President Obama a letter because of something he said. I felt so much better for doing it.
As one of the best ever Copywriters said... "Just Do It"