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women's fiction

10 Things I Learned Writing My First Novel

10 Things I Learned Writing My First Novel

1. It takes much longer than you would think: I finished the first draft of The Clouds Aren’t White in three months. I thought to myself, ‘hah this writing isn’t too bad. I’ll be done in four more months.’ That was not the case. 

2. You spend 4x as long editing as you do writing: Every writer will tell you this. The first draft is the easy part. The second and third drafts are harder. Editing is the hardest. Somehow you have to take a first draft and make it into a story that flows, that makes sense, that has proper grammar…something worth reading in other words.

3. You'll rewrite at least one chapter, usually the first and/or the last: This happened. When I read the first draft over, six weeks later, I wanted to gag myself. The first chapter was awful and it in no way coincided with the ending. Also I added another two chapters. This was actually the fun part, bringing the story full circle.

4. There are a thousand achievements to celebrate: First draft. First revision. Second revision. Third revision. Editing finished. Writing a dedication. Sending off to agents. Sending off to more agents. Deciding to self publish. Getting a cover. Uploading to amazon. Website going live. Book release date. Getting the advance copy of the paperback. First sale. It goes on. 

Disclaimer: My husband no longer drinks champagne with me…apparently we’ve “celebrated too much.” Whatever. Celebrate on.

5. Your family will get tired of hearing about the book: This happens. Sadly. Its hard to understand just how much courage it takes to make a simple file upload on amazon or what it feels like to lay awake at night, sure that the world will laugh in your face for the book and label you a fake. Or perhaps even worse, that no one will ever buy it. 

It takes so much courage to write a book. It takes dedication and perseverance to get through the hardest part…yourself.

6. Getting an agent is as difficult/almost impossible as they say: I sent my query letter out to thirty agents all of whom were meticulously researched to make sure that they were accepting novels and that my book would be a good fit. It totaled out to twenty nine rejections. The only ‘yes’ I got was from an agent that had a dubious reputation in the literary world. Keep going. Your book is worth it. Rejection doesn’t reflect upon you.

7. You'll want to quit at some point. Or many points: All I wanted was for it to be easy. I wanted to quickly find an agent and a publisher and sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Then it didn’t turn out that way. I seriously considered not self publishing. I wanted to quit. I did.

8. There will be spelling mistakes in your published manuscript: It happens. Get over it. Who cares if the grammar nut reviewed your book and commented on it. No one else cares…as long as they aren’t rampant and distract from the narrative. 

9. You'll cry. My husband has come to realize that this is just a part of living with an author. I cry when I’m thrilled with what I’ve done. I cry when I hate it and want it all to go away. I cry when the words sound like a three year old. I cry because I’m sure that sentence is literary perfection. I also cried when I uploaded files to Amazon and CreateSpace. I cried when my family wasn’t as thrilled as I hoped they would be. Crying is ok. Being disappointed is ok, just don’t let it become every day. Try again tomorrow. Do something different tomorrow.

10. Holding the book, seeing it for sale online, will make all the pain worth it: Crying again. There’s something, a part of you, out there in the world. A thing of beauty that you’ve created and that’s something very few people can say. Be proud. Don’t let sales or likes or shares get in the way of the wonderful thing you’ve accomplished.

The Clouds Aren't White-Behind the Scenes

The Clouds Aren't White-Behind the Scenes

The Clouds Aren't White (hereinafter referred to as-TCAW) is, at its heart, a story about love. In my introductory blog post I wrote how the story came about as just an idea about how a person would live life after losing their spouse. TCAW is a very special story because of (not just the main character-Emmeline) Sophie, the five year old, daughter. She is what drives Emmeline forward, keeps her mind on task, and comes to symbolize life.

As a mother to a young daughter myself, I adored writing Sophie. She has spunk and a little bit of drama. What I love most, though, is that she isn't the 'mini-me' to her mother. My own daughter is light-years different than I, an idea I wanted to convey throughout the novel. 

The second strong driver in TCAW is the secondary setting of the story, the Isle of Skye in Scotland. The town of Portree, where Emmeline and Sophie move, is a small town which triples in the late spring and summer months from tourists. While the museum where Emmeline works is a product of my imagination, the scenery and the harsh weather are all quite true. 

The Clouds Aren't White was a thrill to write. There were many moments while penning scenes that I started crying and I hope that the book inspires such emotion in my readers. 

If you haven't yet ordered your copy of The Clouds Aren't White, you can purchase the Ebook on Amazon here or you can order the paperback on CreateSpace here.

Cheers,

Rachael