Wet Slimy Oysters

It took me a very long time to have the confidence to start writing this novel. Did I really have what it took to write something full length, with relatable characters and an interesting plot?

Up until that point I had only written a guide to being a best man which was essentially a personal version of the software help guides that I’ve written for years as part of my day job. I had also written a few plays, but they are a very different beast to a novel. With a play, you tell the entire story through dialogue, with the ultimate aim of having actors and a director creating all the visuals, so you don’t have to think about creating an entire world.

But with a novel, the requirement is not just to have a good story and good dialogue. A novelist needs to pick just the right descriptive language for each environment, to precisely outline the rich inner life of each character and to somehow use just the right language at every point so the whole world of the novel builds effortlessly in the mind of the reader.

Bloody intimidating, in other words.

But it was something Donny said that spurred me on to make a start. He sent me this article that compared writing a novel to working with oysters. It is a slightly tortured metaphor, but bear with me.

The first task is just to crack the shell. The hardest thing about starting a novel is just sitting down and committing to doing it. It takes an effort of will, but once you’ve started – it’s underway.

But when you do crack the shell, you are left with a wet slimy oyster. In other words, the first version you put down is going to be pretty horrible, but you just need to accept that is going to be the case. The most important thing is to get the words down in some form with the knowledge that you will get to fix things up later – and that’s OK. Because once your wet slimy messy novel is down on paper, then you get to refine and refine and refine via the editing process.

Through editing, you keep polishing and polishing with the hope that you will soon end up with a shiny pearl.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *