I have to start off by saying that I’m very nervous about posting this and that what follows is self-indulgent chin-stroking about my first novel and therefore likely to interest almost no one. But it’s my blog and I’ll weeboo weeboo if I want to, so feel free to tap out now.
Picasso was once asked (apparently) what he does when faced with a blank canvas and if he ever felt intimidated by it. His response was to make a mark, any mark, and voila no longer a blank canvas. I don’t know if that’s true, but I like it, and so, since this is the first time I’m publicly discussing my first novel – and, frankly, intimidated as all hell by the thought – here’s my scribble to get it over and done with. I hope to write more thoughtful things about it later, but for now this is what I got.
Okay. Here we go.
My debut novel, The Fulcrum, will be loaded to Amazon on 19 February.
This is both a happy and sad occasion. Sad, because I’d hoped to find a publisher (SA) or an agent (US) but neither panned out. I learned a lot through that process and I’ll post a very helpful (I think) blog for South African newbie authors about that later.
But happy, because this six-year journey is finally coming to an end.
When I started writing The Fulcrum in 2016, I thought the hardest part would be to write it. This was not the case. I realised pretty quickly that, for me at least, the hardest part was all the emotional stuff around writing my first novel.
From the very beginning, I was faced with insecurities that overwhelmed me: This story is too big for me, I can’t write it (therefore I shouldn’t write it or even try). This story isn’t South African and who do I think I am to not acknowledge our present and past traumas? I’m a woman and women don’t write this sort of story (Utter bollocks, of course. Immediately, obviously, patently, laughably untrue, of course. But internalised sexism runs deep and this feeling surprised me.) No one wants to publish or agent this, so it must be worthless and I must be an idiot for pushing through. (In real-world terms, this might be the case; but I loved writing this story and am just happy that a platform exists where I might find a reader or two.)
And on and on.
It became very quickly clear that part of bringing this story to life depended not just on my and the story’s bull-headedness to get it out, but on the support of, and conversations with, my loved ones. Without them I’d be a miserable little heap of poo crying on a small pile of torn-up papers.
But now here I am on the other side of storytelling uncertainty and wailing (two years of pitching and almost 70 agent rejections is ROUGH on the ego my friends). How does the saying go? It always seems impossible until its done?
It’s funny, this business of writing a book no one asked for and no publisher wants, and still hoping that it finds its readers somewhere in the world without marketing or distribution. It’s borderline delusional.
Weirdly, just acknowledging that and writing it out feels comforting. Maybe the first step to first-time-fiction-author-trauma recovery is also acceptance. I am delusional and that’s okay.
Works for me.
Okay so that’s my Picasso blank canvas scribble for now. The worst of it is over. I’ll write more about what The Fulcrum is about and all that business later and hope you’ll stick around for it.