Yes, this is a countdown.
Yes, we’re counting down from three.
Towards the day with my big announcement at the end of the countdown. Intrigued? There’s a clue at the end of the post!
In my life, three is pretty significant: I have three children, and I’m one of three siblings myself. My first name only contains three letters (bo-ring!) and I play three instruments – none of them all that well, since you ask.
The beautiful thing about three is that it’s the perfect structure. There is something beautiful about the balance: beginning, middle, end. Thesis, antithesis, conclusion. Plus, minus, equals. You get my drift.
You already know that I love quotes and here’s a quote on three:
“Three simple rules in life: If you do not go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you do not ask, the answer will always be no. If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.” ― Anonymous
Hmmmm. For what it’s worth, here are some musings on this:
Going after what you want:
I started writing seriously years ago. It began with a fairly simple thing: the decision to finally send one of my projects away, for someone else to have a look, to judge. I started with a short story. After all, that seemed simple enough. I finished it and I sent it in for a competition.
That might have been the end of it all, only that I won it – genuinely – I didn’t expect that. The pile of entries was formidable and I felt like a hero. At this point it’s worth pointing out that I entered the same competition a couple of years later and didn’t place at all – and the grand total of entries that year was five! Hear what I’m saying – I’m no genius. But that first win made me want to write more. It made me realise what I really wanted and I decided to go after it. My New Year’s resolution was to finish a novel. It took four months, and with clenched teeth and white knuckles, I pressed the send button – my first submission to a literary agent.
That particular submission went to a handful of agents. Many answered no. Some answered ‘no, but…’. By that I mean that some agents wanted to see whatever I wrote in the future. Some even asked for the whole manuscript of the sample I sent, but no-one offered me representation or publication or even any other ‘-ation’. I had failed. That’s how it felt. Saying that, all the waiting to hear back ensured one thing – I had begun to write another book. And even though declaring the death of my first novel (Rain on the Roof – I still love the title!)) was painful, the pain was dimmed by my love for my new baby, growing in word count and complexity every day. It wasn’t long before I wanted to show it off to the world, so I began a whole new round of asking.
Alas, it did well for one so young. It made the Kelpies shortlist of 2013, a Scottish prize for new children’s fiction. But despite getting close, the manuscript never quite got there. How to move forward?
The answer is simple really. I was already smitten by my next book. By the way, that’s not the same as giving up. It means getting better. I sent more stories to competitions – some won; some crashed and burned – and that’s ok. I finished two more novels, waiting for the moment that all would come good and a book I loved, one of my babies, would catch the eye of an agent, a publisher, a gatekeeper. One day…
And I resolved that until that day, I wasn’t going to stand still. I was going to keep asking until someone said yes. After all, I needed to go after what I realised I really wanted.
The countdown continues tomorrow.
Oh, and another three quotes about three, just for the truly keen!
There are three things I always forget. Names, faces — the third I can’t remember.
A writer needs three things: experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.
There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
–William Somerset Maugham