This book is neither good nor bad; it’s invaluable! Roz Morris is the Creative Midwife.
For me, this baby was in there, becoming more and more overdue. Fourteen years overdue. The thoughts were creating a dense cloud in my head that I knew had to be released before I went mad.
What made me put away a half-finished novel of 40,000 words for 14 years, I can’t reveal. But it was traumatic and life-threatening. I allowed it to make me a creatively challenged former writer for all those years. A has-been.
This year, it was nothing less than write or creative death to me when I decided to write a new and different novel for NaNoWriMo, a couple of weeks before the event started. Like a first-time mother, I began with no prior knowledge of the event or the aftermath. I had no draft, no outline, just that baby-dense cloud of unwritten work in my head on Day One. I studied my forty-strong books on writing for a clue. With Nail Your Novel, a new Kindle order, I found what I was looking for.
Nail Your Novel gave me the power to get releasing, to stop holding on; to give birth to “that novel” burning a hole in my head/stomach/nerves. My inner critic was a distant memory as I let 71,529 words of draft one flow.
Roz has a clever, unpatronising, encouraging attitude born of experience, ghost-writing ten novels and writing her own. She knows the process involved. She holds your hand as a generous equal, willing you on. I’m prepared to trust her in this. And so, I’ve allowed NYN to hold my hand right through the process. I’m now at the second draft stage but, before I do that, I’m on to NYN’s Beat Sheets – as practically helpful as NYN’s Card Game – and it works for me. It’s also a fun way of working. We don’t have to be miserable in order to write.
There are myriad books on writing out there – hey, borrow mine – I must have forty. I love Stephen King’s On Writing, Dorothea Brande’s If You Want To Write, Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, Lamott’s Bird on Bird. But some books on writing will persuade me I can’t spell even though I know I can, can’t form a beginning, middle and end, can’t write dialogue, can’t shape characters, can’t do this, can’t do that.
There are also those that tell me how to write a story; NYN is not one of those. And that there is some mystique, a secret, to successfully producing an end result. If midwives said that to every first-time mother, there’d be an awful lot of decades-long pregnancies out there. Like mine.
What Nail Your Novel does is exactly what it says on the cover! It assumes you know the basics of writing, like you know how to get pregnant, and, let’s face it, most of us ordering writing books do have a clue how to write. It’s the how, the actual working, of the first draft to the working of the final product that needs to be nailed.
Hurrah. At last, here’s a book that shows you that you can nail it. You can conceive the idea, you can write, and you can bear the result. It’s a bit like labour: let it flow, let it happen, it’s going to happen anyway, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Get it written, give birth to something. You can fashion it in a balanced way afterwards. And here’s how.
Sorry to labour the point… but thank you, Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris, my Creative Midwife. I finished 50,000 words in 17 days with NaNoWriMo. I went on to finish 71,529 words of my 1st draft by day 23 of my finger-flurry. Beginning, middle, end and now something to develop. I’m going to remember that word count in the same way I still remember my babies’ birth-weights.
What was born was a wrinkled, vernix-covered, perfect yet imperfect baby, not yet able to toddle, not yet able to open its eyes. For that, it needs nourishment, growth, encouragement and some clipping back: forming and shaping, in the way that we have to teach, and allow our children to blossom as whole beings.
So the rest is up to me, in the same way that motherhood was up to me. But even there, like the midwife visiting after the birth and teaching me what this baby can actually become, NYN shows me exactly how to get to second draft, what to do with it and beyond.
With the helpful website named after the book, www.nailyournovel.com, there is plenty of great aftercare, so let’s not screw it up when we’ve been gifted such an amazing delivery.