by admin

January 2, 2023

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The Risk of Failure

Although my blog claims to be about reading and writing YA, I do tend to stick to the reading side of things. Talking about writing still feels weird to me.

I’m going to be unplugging for a bit though and I thought I’d share why.

Last week Natalie Whipple posted about her two book sale. I’m so happy for her. I’ve been following her blog for a while and I know it’s been a long road for her.

Her sale was also a kick in the pants for me. 

See I discovered Natalie’s blog at the end of 2008, when we were both finalists in Nathan Bransford’s First paragraph Competition. Now Natalie has an agent and a two book deal and I. . .um. . .don’t.

I could stamp my foot and whine, but like I said I’ve been reading Natalie’s blog and I know that book contract didn’t just land on her doorstep delivered by the good luck fairy. She worked really, really hard and she kept working.

Now in my defense I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing. Since 2008 I wrote the book to go with that first paragraph. I edited the hell out of it four times! I found my wonderful critique group. Oh and I also had a baby and moved countries.

But since last August, when after five full rejections I decided to put novel one aside and work on something new, I’ve been faffing about. No other way to put it. 

I think I may be scared of finishing a first draft. Now I know that’s just the beginning. Now I know that finishing and editing a novel is not a guarantee of an agent and a book deal.

But I really need to get over that and get down to work! As one of my favourite authors, Philip Pullman, says;

If you want something you can have it, but only if you want everything that goes with it, including all the hard work and the despair, and only if you’re willing to risk failure

So I am unplugging, cutting back on television, and reading (yes even reading. I really do want this), so I can buckle down and try and get this first draft done by August 1st.

Wish me luck.

I’ll probably check blogs on Sundays, I can’t go completely cold turkey, but I won’t be posting (my procrastination method of choice) for a while. 


  1. What a wonderful quote. And an inspiring post. I think I'm going to do the same. No TV, less time fluffing around online, and LESS reading for me (I read and read and read and want to read all the time and then I don't write).
    Good luck with your first draft! Keep us posted on your progress.
    Nothing like someone else's success to prompt our own.


  2. You can do it! I believe in you! I've found posting some of my writing on my blog every Wednesday gives me a nice little personal deadline for things and the encouraging feedback helps a lot too.


  3. We totally understand. We are SUPER happy for Natalie (who has been kicked in the butt a few times herself) and we completely get how her success would make you reach even harder for your own. Best of luck!!


  4. Oooh, good luck!! I wish you all the luck in the world. I'd love to hear of your progress! πŸ™‚


  5. Go, Alexa, GO! You can do it! Your critique group will be very glad to read your story when you're ready for us…

    Great quote, too!


  6. Good luck with your writing! I am sure you will be able to do it πŸ™‚


  7. I'm sure you can do this! Just remember to have fun with it. πŸ™‚ Good luck.


  8. Good luck, Alexa! You can do it!

    And hey — moving and baby take a LOT out of you. I had 2 books out in 2009, and a book and two short story collections out in 2010. But in 2011, the year after having a baby? ZERO books out. It just takes some time.


  9. This is an interesting post for me right now. As part of my critique group, you know I've had a tough writing year. With one book out, and another out next year, you'd think maybe I'd be in my groove, but I'm finding it the opposite. Almost harder than ever.

    It's interesting about reading because as you know, you can find me all over the web telling writers that they MUST READ if they want to be good writers. And I honestly believe that. However, your post made me look at my reading habits a bit. Before I sold my first book, I read about 150 books a year for 3 years. Then, once it sold, and the second one sold, and I was busy writing, writing, writing, it dropped down to 100 books per year. But this year, I am easily on pace to 150 again. This evening, I added book #75 to the list, and that doesn't count the handful that I read 50-150 pages of and then gave up on. That's a lot of books since January. And not a lot of writing.

    I am very disciplined in one respect. My reading time very rarely interferes with the time I have set aside for writing. But what I'm beginning to wonder is if perhaps maybe all this reading is crowding my brain with words…someone else's words? I too am trying to finish a draft by August first, and I've only got about half of it done. Maybe I'll going on a bit of a reading hiatus. The author of The Artists Way, Julia Cameron, urges you to take a full week off reading…any kind of reading…periodically to clear your brain.

    Anyway, sorry this is so long, but I got started and sort of worked it all out in my comment! Thanks for bringing this up, Alexa. And for the record, I think you've accomplished amazing amounts of writing for someone who has had a baby AND moved. Moving countries took me a year to get over!


  10. P.S. Please ignore the typos and wrong words. I read for 10 hours today, so my eyesight's a bit blurry. Haha! No kidding!


  11. I've always wanted to publish one of the many novels i've written but find it so hard to get time and sometimes lose inspiration halfway through writing a book and ant finish it.
    I think having a week on holidays on your own would be the perfect time to write a book with interruptions.
    All i can say is keep going and if your passionate about it then it will all happen in good time.
    good luck πŸ™‚


  12. Don't be deterred by the rejection! if you believe in your work and get enjoyment from it then surely the chance of being published is merely the icing on the cake!!


  13. Your post is so inspiring! I think I need a kick in the butt too, writing-wise. Good luck with your goal, I'll def buy your book when it gets a deal πŸ˜‰


  14. Well done you! I'll really miss your posts, but you have to do whatever it takes to get words down on the page. There are so, SO many things that are easier to do than writing–you have to remove them if you want to get anywhere.

    If you need an extra set of eyes for reading, you've got my email address and I'd love to help.


I adore comments, so thanks so much for taking the time. I'll try and return the favour πŸ˜€

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