Branching out

I’m a writer. It’s what I do, it’s what I have to do. I’ve been blogging about life as an expat in France for some time now, while also writing two novels and an advice column.

Now I’d like to branch out. I’m going to write about writing: the process, the pitfalls, the problems, and the sheer panic when a piece of work leaves the safety of my computer and heads out there unprotected into the world of readers and critics.

Writing, you see, is a scarily personal business. No matter what your genre, you put your innermost self onto the page in every word. Every piece you write is unique to you – it’s your voice and yours alone. When you offer up your work, to a publisher or agent or a competition, or even to your best and most trusted friend, it’s a little like sending your child out on their own for the first time.

If someone rejected your child, you’d be out there fighting for them; but when your work is knocked back, you don’t know who or how to fight. You feel that you’ve failed. You’re no good. You did your best but it wasn’t enough. You can’t see where you went wrong when it felt so right. You are tempted to just give up.

Well, what if you are good enough, and your work is almost there, but just needs a final tweak or polish? What if the problem is much smaller than you think?

Take heart, and keep writing. It’s not you that is being rejected, only those precious, sweated-over words on the page – and you can do a lot to help them on their way.

I’m writing this partly to make myself finish that darned novel that was only supposed to need a bit of editing and ended up as a re-write; and the one that I managed to lose inside my computer, but which I suspect is masquerading under another book’s name.

I’m a writer; I’m also a procrastinator par excellence.  The one thing I really want to do is the one thing I’m good at putting off.

So: keyboard dusted, screen at the right angle, chair sorted, desk not too messy; no taking time out for a cup of tea, or to look at the sunshine, or to catch up on the news.

Once upon a time…


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About Lorraine Swoboda

Author of Mrs Calcott's Army. I write about the creation of a novel. It's a complete mystery, but I've done it. I also write about the basic building blocks of writing - grammar, punctuation, and those niggling things that you know don't sound quite right but you can't work out why. Writing is 20% inspiration, 40% perspiration, and 40% staring at the screen wondering what I pressed to make it do that.

3 responses to “Branching out”

  1. Jenny says :

    Hello Lorraine – what a warm and encouraging piece, and I look forward to reading plenty more in future! You are right – writing is personal, and revealing your work is scary – and sometimes rewarding – it’s at best a mixed experience and we’d be naive to think otherwise. I’m about to hand over a significant chunk of my ‘work in progress’ to my friend for her opinion, and even though I’ve known and loved and trusted my friend for forty years, I’m still fearful! We writers are fragile souls – much like the beautiful rose in your photograph!


  2. deborahbrasket says :

    How this post speaks to me in so many ways. Feeling in my bones that I’m a writer, it’s what I love to do, what I do best, what gives my life its deepest meaning. The vulnerability and fear attached to me–if this is who I am and it’s not good enough, then what?! And the procrastination, putting almost everything else on my to-do list above writing. I’m getting better with all of this. But it takes time and persistence and devotion. Thanks for the inspiring read–knowing there are other writers who share my challenges is so comforting.


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