The Novelry Blog

Where the writers are.

The Nervous Novelist Jan 10, 2021


'Every writer I know has trouble writing.'

Joseph Heller.


Almost 99% of writers exist in a state of some doubt that they're any good at this writing business. The other 1% aren't very good at it.

Only a fool thinks their writing is much good while they're mid-novel. Sure, you get flashes, moments, in which a line soars, an insight cuts, or a mysterious space opens up and you think - yup, that's why I do this. And even, damn that's good. But mostly one goes to the manuscript word document in a state best described as faintly appalled.

You're not alone. Confidence is quite properly an elusive quality for this craft. You'd be useless with too much of it. Confidence and doubt keep the work human and humane, and above all else tender. After all, the novel is the art form singularly concerned with the frailty of the creature that knows God but is no god, that has the appetite of an animal, but is not quite as reliable. 

We seem to see our novel as the...

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A New Year's Resolution for Writers Jan 03, 2021

From the Desk of Kate Riordan.

Someone once said to me, ‘It’s a shame, isn’t it, that being a writer was your dream but you don’t really like it’. I turned to him, completely taken aback. ‘But I love writing!’ I said. He laughed. ‘You’ve got a funny way of showing it.’

He had a point. I know quite a few writers but I’d never come across one more resistant to the actual writing than me. ‘Just do a little bit every day!’ well-meaning people would say, to which my answer was a bitter laugh. Every day? I’d gone weeks without even opening my work-in-progress. Obviously, the guilt was crippling.

I wasn’t unique in this, of course. A cursory trawl on Twitter revealed plenty of writers discussing their displacement activity of choice: manic decluttering, doing their tax early, watching videos of dogs launching themselves into piles of leaves. Anything, anything, not to just crack on and write the...

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The Gift of a Novel Dec 27, 2020

From the Desk of Emylia Hall.

I’ve recently been dipping into The Gifts of Reading, a collection of essays and literary love letters from the likes of Robert Macfarlane, Candice Carty-Williams, and William Boyd, full of personal meditations on the power of gifting stories. For Robert Macfarlane, whose initial essay The Gifts of Reading inspired the project, the book he gives, again and again, is In a Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. The latter is a particularly resonant, if not bittersweet, title for these times, where we’re trying to focus our gratitude and count our blessings, and reach out to others in need; to do, simply, our best.

A recurring idea in The Gifts of Reading is that giving someone a book is a particularly intimate gesture; you profess to know their soul and are serving it accordingly – which perhaps makes it risky gifting territory for some; I’m sure we’ve all had those conversations where we can’t believe that a friend, so...

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Pantomime and Story Dec 20, 2020

From the Dressing Room of a Dame.

(Philip Meeks is on enforced sabbatical from pantomime, writing his novel with The Novelry. Photo © Bob Workman.)

On the day I turned three, my life took such an irrevocably warped turn I never looked back...

I wish the opening sentence of my novel had come as easy.

I’d been a model child which is probably why I’ve been anything but as an adult. I was white-blonde haired with a deep brown-eyed searching stare. I’d have been a Midwich Cuckoo if I’d had the attention span.  Elderly neighbours came to sit and stare at how I ate my meals precisely, foodstuff by foodstuff, without moaning or mess. My mother says there was silence as they tried to work out how they’d gone so wrong with their own mash-splattered sprogs. I learned to speak too soon, I was walking within months and I had the early shoots of lively curiosity and imagination clearly on display.

But I fell asleep when storytime...

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The Novelry Writers' Annual Report 2020 Dec 13, 2020

Christmas comes to The Novelry in the form of completed novels, so many first drafts, awaiting their next draft in the new year. Congratulations to all of you for making sure you didn't rely on Santa for your best gift this Christmas! The year in fiction was a blessed relief versus the year in reality. We drew close at The Novelry as writers and enjoyed time together online, in our own good company and with well-known authors too.

We have learnt so much this year by pulling together. This was ever the vision enshrined in our logo - the octopus. One shared mind bulging and many tentacles writing!

With some three hundred novelists writing with us presently, we have our tentacles on many works of fiction. At The Novelry HQ, we keep our tabs on our writers novels as a team thank to a wonderful 'doctors system' updated in real-time by our writers' activities withing their online course, and at every one-to-one tutor session. We have instituted a Monday team meeting as...

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