I will start with something positive. I've spent the past three hours writing some 'extended chapters' for my novel, whereby my heroine goes down to London for the Christmas feasting and attends a masque at the banqueting hall I visited last time I was there. I've made a promising start on this and, with just one other chapter to slot into a later section, I reckon that would make the novel 'complete'. I've had to divide it into a trilogy otherwise it would have been the length of Ulysses. I am concerned the first novel will be too long at 100k, even though this is the acceptable length of a historical piece.
I've been reading a frivolous paperback that I picked up in Tesco. The style of writing is very similar to the style in which I wrote some of my MNFF fanfiction in. First-person present-tense narrative with lots of gerunds and choppy sentences. There's no engagement in description or depth study of any but the main character. All in all, a poor read. It makes me wonder whether 'quality of writing' rates highly on literary agents' list when they seek new authors. I hate to sound like an arrogant cow, but I'm one of the best writers I know. It's why I don't read fiction very often, because I do not find it to engaging enough.
I went on a writers forum and had a scan through some of the advice threads for finding an agent. None of them provide categorical answers. There's plenty of talk about the types of novels that are rejected or accepted, but very few are able to pinpoint why. I've been tempted to bang out a submission to UEA's Creative Writing course just to see if they ask me to interview. I wouldn't accept a place on the course because I cannot afford it (plus, you know, should get a few years of teaching in at least before packing it in to become a full-time penniless author ...). I have somehow lost all soft and hard copies of the best short story I ever wrote, which was the deciding factor, since I would struggle to go back into 'short story writing mode' midway through writing my novel. I could submit the first few chapters of my novel, but they're not showpieces. They're designed to ease people gently into what is quite a steady-paced story. Downton Abbey on paper, but with a little more sex ...
I do wonder how on earth this writing talent of mine can come so naturally, when everything else in my life seems so damn hard. I've not been sleeping well recently and I've spent a lot of time doubting myself. I don't quite know why. Part of me sees the others on my course and can't help comparing myself or acting as a competitor. I also can't help feeling jittery about my Teaching Practice next term. I've spent plenty of time complaining about not having enough actual lessons to teach in my last placement - this time, I will have a timetable of around 15 lessons per week. And because we've spent so much time philosophising, debating and planning what makes the 'perfect' lesson, I feel my University tutor expects us to be at some enlightened point whereby we can walk through the classroom doors and just exude all the latest educationalist thinking and transfigure it into something that will enrapture the pupils and move them up those sacred tiers of Bloom's taxonomy.
I have the Christmas break to prepare for it and to attempt to shuffle my priorities back to what they were before I started this course. See if I can pick up a few dates to help me 'get over' the latest inappropriate crush. Ben has suggested we go up to Durham for a few days; this is good. I should spend time with Bailey rather than dreading going up to see him in case I get affronted with a torrid of complaints about his behaviour. I should go to the gym more rather than complaining about the extra weight I have piled on through stress. And I should chill out ... I usually hate Christmas because there's always some big fuck off argument taking place. Last Christmas was one to look back on with regret and resentment rather than joy, which is half my problem for this Christmas. I rather gloomily assume it will be just as shit.
I reckon getting hammered on every available opportunity and pulling some randomer in a dirty nightclub in Mansfield is the right way forward ... yes?
Hmmm, perhaps not. But I do fancy a good night out and I really want to see my friends again. I think most importantly I want someone to give me a great big hug and tell me that I am brilliant. I might not be naturally good at being a teacher, but that doesn't mean I can't make a brilliant teacher in time.