From time to time I’ll see online someone advertising an eBook along the lines of ’10 Things Writers Do Wrong in their Manuscripts’ and wonder if it’s worth dropping the cash to work out whether any of this wisdom is relevant. Inevitably, when reading submission guidelines from magazines or publishers, there’ll be a sentence somewhere that states ‘you should look at our other work to see if what you white will fit well with our publication ethos.‘ I seldom do.

Questioning literary output is healthy. Realising your work won’t fit in everyone’s publications is an important wake-up call when it happens. However, how you then deal with those revelations can make or break confidence, often fragile to begin with regardless of other people’s expectations. As NaNoWriMo is looming large, getting my shit together then writing a novel is beginning to matter again.

However, which one gets the nod?

One is the idea I took to Mslexicon and got widespread support for. The other’s my favourite project from quite some time ago, repackaged and far more tighter than it ever was when the idea was begun. The havering has already begun: go for the vanity project I’ll actually enjoy, or finally complete the idea that might sell? Of course I could do both, but no good ever comes from splitting interests.

What is needed most of all right now however is the means by which brain practice the skills required to become a better writer: eliminating word repetition, showing and not telling… the list goes on. Trying to balance which of these two projects is likely to be a better learning experience is suddenly as important as developing story itself. Ultimately what’s most significant is learning and not travelling forward.

Of course I could do both, but in this case brain knows one matters more.


As has been the case with Poetry, learning has bought better work, more maturity and a developing sense of an artistic voice. The same really needs to happen with fiction. I’m a realist, it’s obvious what needs to be done, and if I am to be ready for what next year brings, it is time to suck it up and do the work. It is no different than exercising, in that regard: a task, waiting to be completed.

What happens next is entirely in my own hands.

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