Can you ruin your writing career before it starts?

National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) is bearing down on us like a Mack truck. Until last night I was all over the place with my project but I sat down at 8:30 pm and wrote a single page synopsis using three simple prompts. I found them on the website Writing Tips Oasis.

  • Act 1: Meeting and falling in love.
  • Act 2: The relationship gets intense, the hero or the heroine makes a mistake (usually the hero). The result is usually separation.
  • Act 3: The hero or the heroine makes amends, both change and learn, and come back together to live happily ever after.

Very simple, but I am keen to write something fun while I work on the second draft of the Circle. The story I’ve finally settled on has the working title Ella Henry and the Ghost Writer fitting quite nicely with the Time Travel theme for this years nano.

As I headed into November last year, I was trying not to think about my son being on the other side of the planet. This year I wish he was. No! I’m joking, but I did have so much more free time on my hands when he was traveling!

I try to avoid social media as much as I can and today after a wander through Facebook, I am pondering a question I read on a new writers’ group. (Why do I do it to myself?) The question went something like this…

“If I mess up when self-publishing my first novel, will it kill my writing career before it even starts?”

Now, I am prone to some pretty dank thoughts about the creative process on ocassion, but until today, this wasn’t one of them. My novel Hotel Deja Vu is good, if I can say so myself, but it’s not “great.”

That’s why I write so much. I’m hoping my work will keep getting better.

This idea that a career as a writer or anything creative for that matter is a one-shot deal seems to be a uniquely new-millennium, social-media era perspective. And I’m not referring to Millenials as a group. Most young people now are prepared to have multiple different careers over their working-life but among we older folks, there exists this idea that if you don’t launch it just so…it’s doomed. If it’s not a Unicorn, it’s a fail. I think it’s linked to the cancel-culture of today’s social media hatchet-squads; don’t you dare make a mistake, because there’s no coming back from that.

After years of making all kinds of arty crap, I don’t believe I’ve made a dire mistake by self-publishing something that’s less than “perfect.” Writing may never be a career for me. I may never win a prize or get a publishing deal but that’s not why I write.


  1. equinoxio21

    Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien. An old French proverb I’d never seen in English.
    Indeed. I wrote for Nano… whatever, once. Didn’t like the process. A bit too pushy and it lacks a… platform. Let others read your work. At least it didn’t then.
    Sooo, keep at it, but don’t let the pressure get you.
    Write for yourself, friends and to sweeten the passing of time, as Borges once wrote.
    (More or less, quoting from memory)
    Best of luck.

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