Saturday, 9 January 2016

Write Me The World

2015 is the year I decided to be a writer.

Wait, Emily, hold up. You've been writing since you could hold a pencil. You started your WIP novel in 2013, which you finished in August and are now three quarters of the way through redrafting, and you wrote novellas before that. You've been writing short stories your whole life and you started writing poetry aged fourteen. How the heck flip had you not already decided to be a writer?"

Well, blogglings, here's the thing.

When I was little, I said I wanted to write books. When I was ten or eleven, this changed to: I want to write picture books. Then I entered the big bad world of secondary school.

My parents said I should be a lawyer, so I briefly considered this idea. I then, aged thirteen, decided I'd be a sociologist and made the rash decision of taking Geography (one I'd regret for the next two years of my life). Looking back, it seems pretty plain that I mostly just fancied my Geography teacher that year. He subsequently moved to Switzerland and I found myself studying volcanoes and wondering where I'd gone wrong.

I thought about other career paths or degree choices. Maybe I'd study History. Maybe I'd study Classics. Aged about fifteen I thought seriously about going to art school. I was still writing all this time, and I was fourteen when I began The City and the Trees, my WIP novel, but I felt like I needed another career aspiration.

Basically, I was scared.

Apparently only the top 2% of aspiring writers actually get published and make a good living, and I was scared to put my hopes on something that has such terrifying statistics.

When somebody asks you what you want to be, they're expecting you to reply “doctor", or “lawyer." Lots of kids -- at least lots of kids who like reading -- go through phases of “writing books", and there are plenty of teenagers who can write a good story for English class. But at seventeen, nobody expects you to answer, straight-faced, “I want to be a writer", and I was scared of explaining to people that yes, this is me: I live inside worlds I've created, talking to people who don't exist in this world, and I want to keep going for the rest of my life.

The rest of my life is an awfully long time, and I was scared of daring to dream that I'd fill those years writing novels.

It was only in 2015 that I realised the truth: success isn't going to come to me. I have to go to it. 


And, funnily enough, it's also the year that I discovered that writing is a pure and unadulterated joy.

It's the year that I started writing every day. It was no longer “I'll write if I feel like it" or “I'll wait for inspiration and then write." I realised a truth that is wonderfully expressed by Isabel Allende:


To some people, that sounds like a slog. I can only imagine the reactions of some of my peers at school if they knew that, rather than sticking the TV on when I get home, I find laptop or notebook or both and I write. That, even though it's not homework, I wrestle with metaphors and dialogue and syntax. That I have very serious thoughts about commas. That I love every second of it.

Writing is hard. It's really hard. Sometimes I fall into plot holes and it hurts to claw my way out. Sometimes I read what I've written and am gripped by despondency, because I feel sure that it won't ever be published, and that I'll never be able to live my dream. But, as irony has it, writing fiction makes me real. Writing shows me my thoughts and my emotions, gives me catharsis, helps me to understand the world. I write and I write and I will stop for nothing. 


2015 is the year I took that decision.

The truth is that I don't know the future. Of course, I know, I will definitely have to get a salaried job when I leave uni because I am not going to fall into a life of making my living as a writer. I will have to work for pay, and obstacles will come up and I'll get rejected by publishers and derided by critics and some days I might feel as if I'm never going to get there, but I'm not going to stop trying. And maybe I never will get published, maybe I'll have a “normal job" all of my life. Statistically, if we think back to the 2%, it's pretty likely. But I'm not going to stop writing, ever, because even if nobody is reading it it will be the expression of my soul. My veins are full of ink and, though it might not make medical sense, to live I need to bleed.

salaried job? please no:

In 2016, I will continue on this path. 

Now that I am a committed little novelist I am, as you would expect, going a lot faster. Gone are the half-uncaring days when a first draft took me two years. I may not be the fastest writer out there, but I keep at it, and that simple fact means I have no limits.

I am currently thirty-two chapters into the redraft of The City and the Trees. I finished typing Draft 1 (yes, I hand-write, and yes, I get distracted by the exciting process of redrafting so I forget to type what I've written) the other night. The final word count is 99 955, which I will definitely be slimming in subsequent drafts. I'm very happy to have Draft 1 fully typed.

My goals for 2016, then, are to finish TCATT Drafts 2 and 3, and send it off to the betas. I hope to do this by the summer, and then, after the customary six-week detox, I'll be starting the sequel. I am so, so, SO excited to follow the story into Book 2!

Other than that, I'll keep going as I'm going. I'll still be hosting the Starting Sparks link-up, and writing many other short stories besides, not to mention fostering the seeds of other novel projects -- the Ruskins, the untitled steampunk one, the metafiction one -- in my mind. I will keep writing, keep liberating my thoughts from their shadowy half-formed realm to the world of ink and paper, and I will not cease. 

I am a writer.



  1. This is such an inspiring post. I definitely relate to the fear that you felt about announcing to the world that you're a writer. Sometimes the biggest battle of validation is within myself. However, it gets easier. Now that I'm at university, I'm surrounded with people who are much more open-minded about someone who seriously explores a creative career.

    That being said, I agree with you. I'll have to get a full-time job for practical reasons:P

    Congrats on the draft! All the best with your new(ish) identity!

    1. Thank you. I am so, so, so looking forward to my English Lit degree, when this will be the case! Although I do have a wonderful supportive group of friends: two of my best friends want to be, respectively, an actor and an artist, so I'm in good territory!

      Unfortunately, yes, but hopefully not forever! ;)

      Thank you! <3

  2. Sunny Smith took the word straight out of my mouth: "inspiring." I haven't precisely committed to being a writer myself yet, even after declaring a Creative Writing major. Perhaps the epiphany awaits.

    Best of luck with all of your future writings!

    1. Thank you very much, Patrick. I hope you figure out soon what you want to do, although don't stress -- you've still got lots of time!

      And to you!

  3. YES! Emily, you can totally do this!

    So I thought a lot about this last year too, and kind of came to the same conclusion. All of my life comes back to writing and stories. Writing is something I cannot get away from even if I tried.

    You can so do this! Your writing is awesome and people are sure to love it. (I love it.) Your characters are fantastic, your themes, your prose. I like your prose.

    Ahem, sorry.

    I'm glad TCATT is going well. And the sequel is coming!

    1. PS I tagged you for the Dragon Loyalty Award if you want to do it.

    2. GOOD! I'm so glad you did too :')

      Thank you so much! This makes me so happy <333

      Thank you! Yes I do, it has dragon in the title so I'M IN!

  4. I experienced some very similar feelings before I decided to be a writer. I have always enjoyed writing, but for the first twelve years of my life I was hard set on becoming a geologist. Then my interests changed and for about four years I just knew that I was going to be an archaeologist, haha. But life had other plans and somewhere along the road I realized that writing was what I really wanted to do all along.

    I am so glad you posted this, because I think it echos the feelings that a lot of writers struggle through, and it's good to know that other people understand.

    Good luck with everything! Ashley already said it, but you can do this! And I can't wait to see the things you will come up with! :D

    1. I'm so glad you've come to your realisation :) Not that geology is not a worthy career path (I went through a geology phase myself), but writing for the win!

      I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

      Thank you -- you too!

  5. *hugs* It sounds so cliched, but it's so true: if it's your passion and dream, then you have to go for it and it will happen. As a sort-of related side note: this post was beautifully written!!

    1. Thank you! And I'm so happy you think so <3

  6. Oh, I feel this. I've been writing for a while now, but it got tough in 2015 because that was when I really decided to be dedicated and spend time *writing* and committing to that. It's scary, and it doesn't seem like it'll be worth it, but I'm 100% certain that all that hard work is going to pay off one day.

    1. Keep going, Aimee! I'm 100% certain it will, too.

  7. "My veins are full of ink and, though it might not make medical sense, to live I need to bleed."

    Wow - I just LOVE this quote.
    I feel like a proud parent. Your ambition and passion to be a writer is so beautiful and contagious. This post is inspiring! <3 I wish you all the best in your pursue of your dreams! I know you will be a very successful writer one day and I will be your number one fan.

    1. This comment made me laugh softly with happiness! Thank you soooo much Marian, you are a top babe! I would be honoured to have you as my number one fan! <3333

  8. I LOVE THIS. I feel like we are in exactly the same position. I was always hesitant to tell people when they asked what career path I want to follow that I want to be a writer, so I always spun something out of it like "I want to work in publishing". Surrounding yourself with creative people who understand your dreams and don't act like it is unrealistic or unattainable are the best to have around (my best friend also wants to be an actor). Now when people ask what I do, or what I want to do instead of saying "I want to be a writer" I say "I am a writer" because I write. It's the only thing I've ever been.

    I love your blog by the way! I'm so glad I found it!

    Noire Beau

    1. I'm so glad! I totally understand you. It's so good to stop saying “I'm an aspiring writer" and say, “I'm a writer"!

      Thanks for the follow, TifeK! <3


Thanks for commenting! :)