When I was around seventeen years old, I had written the first chapter of what was supposed to be my first novel.
It seemed I had it all figured out. I had the list of publishers I’d approach with my proposal and the first three chapters as samples.
One year passed.
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Eighteen years on earth and the manuscript hadn’t been touched in a long time. In fact, it never went beyond chapter two.
Did I stop writing?
No. my focus shifted to writing more poems and short stories.
I shared some of my works on Poemhunter, Redroom and on Facebook, as notes.
I also wrote lots of quotes and compiled them for future use in dialogue in the novels that were still waiting for me to write them.
People liked my poems, commented on them and I kept on writing some more while the book I really wanted to finish was left to gather dust.
Then the blogging bug caught me
In 2010, I registered my first self-hosted WordPress blog, wrote an about page, posted some of my poems, quotes and a few articles on it.
I wanted to use that blog to share my work and use it to promote my books in the future.
I wrote more articles on anything I could think of – mostly churning out posts on family issues.
It was like I had forgotten about my novel and became obsessed with writing articles and reading post after post on how to build a successful blog.
I still wrote poems once in a while but spent a lot of the time I used to pour into writing my novel, either reading or playing with my blog.
At nineteen, the novel had not been touched in a very long time.
At twenty, I thought about all the big dreams I once had.
Dreams of becoming a published writer.
Dreams of influencing people with my own words.
Dreams of writing a sequel.
Dreams of meeting other authors (both young and old) and making genuine friends.
Was I getting closer to them or was the gap just widening?
One night, after a very long day at school, I started writing a new novel.
I wrote around seven pages before going to bed.
It felt good.
This was going to be my first novel I thought. I tucked the other manuscript that had stalled in chapter two far away from me.
Two days passed, and my new novel had a chapter two. I was excited.
Kept reading from chapter one to two (around ten thousand words) and correcting mistakes I’d made along the way.
A few weeks later, chapter three was completed. I even spent a few hours editing and proofreading it in preparation for chapter four.
I read all three chapters, found a few errors, corrected them and laid out a plan for the next chapter.
The blogging bug crept in again after I registered a new blog
All the hours formerly dedicated to finishing my novel was taken away by the new site.
I spent hours promoting my articles – trying to get noticed, commenting on other people’s blogs, chatting with friends on Facebook and reading lots of books – from biographies to business books.
Now, we are in May 2014 and I haven’t yet published any of the novels.
Maybe this will be the year when I finally publish my first novel.
I still keep writing blog posts a few times a week.
And even though I love blogging, I won’t be ashamed to say that I have matured as a blog owner.
I have big plans and New Year Resolutions to work on.
Lessons learnt after many years staring at two incomplete and unpublished novels
Many years spent toiling leads to many lessons.
Lessons that are supposed to make a man wiser.
Lessons that are meant to help a man find his purpose – to take his goals seriously.
- I learnt that even though blogs are great platforms to build an audience or promote books, they can easily eat up all the time you need as a writer to complete your book and eventually publish it. May be the reason this happens is because:
- Many writers find blogging fun and promising than sitting down to add more pages to their manuscript.
- Some writers can’t stand the rejection slips that sometimes follow a three – four month wait after a few sample chapters and a book proposal is sent to a publishing company or agent. The wait or rejection makes blogging so inviting that a writer may take several years before completing their book or writing their next book.
- Sometimes a writer may doubt their ability to publish a book on their own and still make their work have a great impact like some of the works published by the big publishing companies.
- It is a good thing to be tough on yourself especially when it comes to managing your time. Your manuscript deserves more attention just as your blog does. Strike a balance. One hour to your site, one hour to your book sounds fair, looks impossible, but can be done.
- Don’t wait for a big blog audience before you finish or launch your book. The best thing you can do is to keep writing your book even if you still don’t have the size of the audience you yearn for. Your blog wins. Your manuscript wins. Two birds with one stone (you). Sounds like something you want? Please, say yes! Ha!
- Write down two pages. One should be titled Why I blog and the other one Why am I writing this book. Why do this? Many writers never really give these questions a lot of thought. But I do hope you see the benefits that come with doing this exercise.
Let your site eat not more than it deserves.
Don’t let your manuscript starve while you look the other way.
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