Monday, 16 August 2010

Proof of crime novel... 'completed', at last.

After twenty years of spasmodically learning my craft, last Sunday - August 8th - saw a huge, psychological milestone reached for little old me... the completion of the crime novel, I'd tentatively started in early 2007. BUT, the 'journey' wasn't without its 'moments'... 89,300 words of sweat, tears, tantrums and turmoil!

A year later, I hit a brick wall, plot-wise, at 41,000 words. Dispirited, frustrated and doubting I had the stamina to write a novel, I left it for a while.

Around April 2008, I began a second novel that had been pecking to be created for months. It included many of the same characters as my first attempt, but was set some years later. My enthusiasm for this story was boundless... initially.

As the 41,000 word milestone loomed, I began to encounter similar problems... stamina and enthusiasm fading, as I struggled, 'head-poppingly', with plot... again!

In August 2008 my great friend, thriller writer Matt Hilton, suggested I start a blog, post some short stories - I had loads of ideas for them - and get some feedback. So I took an audibly deep breath and took Matt's advice, thinking, But I've only ever shown my writing to me pets n me mum before now...eeek! However, positive feedback spurred me on, keeping the dream alive. Maybe I could write, after all... but could I write a novel?

In a eureka moment, in early 2009 , I decided I could merge the two 'half-novels' together. This was very tricky, but I managed it... well, sort of. Chopping and cutting, re-writing and editing, until I had a mishmash of 70-odd thousand words... but, alas, it still wasn't right.

There was a point where, despite my tenacity and ambition - or because of it? - I had to pull away from it all, as it was becoming too much. But that's when you know who your friends are, right? Many offered encouragement and I'm truly thankful, but there were four in particular, who have been constant throughout, and had more faith in me than I probably had myself... my brother, Dek, Dave Barber, Lee Hughes and Matt Hilton - cheers, lads!

A couple of trusted friends gave me feedback, and liked it (but they would, I hear you say!). By this stage, my confidence was up, due to having successes with numerous short stories accepted for e-zines, plus a few online competition wins, and even bagging slots in three anthologies. However, two other factors, in keeping me upbeat and focussed, were crucial too. The growing success of Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, whereby I read and edited many top notch stories, and had contact with some really talented writers. Plus, the online writers' group, Writers' News Talkback, where I found, not only encouragement in abundance, but also many genuine friends.
Obviously, the followers and commenters (except the Chinese porn trolls) on this blog have been a Godsend as well.

So, in summary, the writing community within the blogosphere kept me going, and pushed me that extra mile. Well, that, and the fact I'm a stubborn old git! :)

And so, I kept my head down, between work, the kids, and life, rattling the keyboard and, after much turmoil, the result is... proof, to myself more than anyone, that I do have the stamina to complete a novel.

This is sounding like an acceptance speech at the Oscars, and I've done nothing yet! But it's a really big deal, to me, getting to this point, after looking like it was impossible. I have high hopes for this book. I'd say it's a third draft, but in reality it's probably a sixth or seventh draft. No doubt, there'll be more tweaking to do in the future, too.

And, yes, someone is currently reading it... and it's not me mum! Can't say anything yet, in case it goes tits up, but watch this space...


Ps. I'm still undecided on the title, so feel free to vote on your favourite, top right.


Sue H said...

Congratulations and well done, young man! :-)

(couldn't see where your list of titles was, to choose from?)

I wish you all success - and hope to hear good things very soon!

So, do you have a 'sequel' sceaming to be let out now?

Sue H said...

* screaming

(sorry - had a bit of a hectic weekend, typing fingers are not behaving!)

Alan Griffiths said...

Congratulations on reaching this milestone Col and well done to you – it may be early days, as you say, but it is a tremendous achievement nonetheless.

I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this project continues to go well and that the feedback you get all the way through the process is encouraging; ultimately leading to getting the piece published and onto the bookshelves – I can only imagine what a well deserved blast that will be for you.

Super news Col, I’m genuinely pleased for you.

Kind regards.

Col Bury said...

Many thanks - you're too quick for me, but the poll's now up!
And, yeah, I've started the sequel.

You're another of the 'blog friends' who has helped to spur me on, and it's greatly appreciated, bud.

Pixie J King said...

Congrats Col!

I'm a bit like you, wondering if I have it in me to complete just 70,000 word novel. That's why I'm writing two hehe.

Keep at it though, Col. Well done, and good luck!

Pixie x

David Barber said...

What a great achievement for a great bloke! You'll have my backing all the way mate. I'd better get my head down and start tapping away now. I remember a small £1 bet years ago and I'm about 70,000 words behind! ;-)

Have a breather now and get some Friday Flash Fiction done. It'd be good to see what you come up with.

See you next week!

Col Bury said...

NOTE: I missed 'Operation Predator' off the poll, so apologies to the person who voted for 'Avenger' & 'Nemeisis', as there was no way of editing it, n I had to start a new one. You can vote again if you want.

Thanks for your support n good luck with BOTH of yours!

Cheers, as always, mate. I may just surprise you n have a pop at that FFF.

Lee Hughes said...

Col it was a complete pleasure, and so chuffed it is finished, you've worked hard. Good luck with it.

Col Bury said...

You've shared many moments with me, and helped drag me over the finish line. Yet, oddly, it may just be the start... :)

Erin Cole said...

Hi Col,

Awesome news. I'm having the same "plot-block" on my second novel, but I finished the first book, so now I KNOW it can be done.
And I also changed the title to my first book at the last minute.

Lily Childs said...

Huge congratulations Col. It's a great achievement.

What is it about 41k? I'm there myself for the second time - but breaking through! You've proved it can be done, despite the hard times. Truly inspiring.

Do keep giving us your valuable insights, especially news of your inevitable success!


Chris Rhatigan said...

That's great news, Col. Congratulations! Hope it hits a bookstore shelf near me one day.

I started a novel a while back but hit a roadblock at about 50,000 words. Maybe someday I'll get back on that.

Clare said...

That's FANTASTIC news, Col - very well done!
Completing a book is no mean achievement in itself but doing so whilst working, bringing up a family and providing support and feedback to fellow writers puts you in another league - savour the moment, the first of many good ones to come, I'm sure.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...


Congratu-f'n-lations!! It is a huge accomplishment. It's very common for writers to get stuck around the 30-40K mark, as most novels are 80K. Stephen King almost scrapped THE STAND for the same reasons and a huge plot issue. After a lot of thought and agonizing, a nuclear bomb solved it. Best of luck, can't wait to read it.

Michael Solender said...

oy! Chuffed for ya Col, keep at it!

Col Bury said...

Guys n Gals,
It's interesting that many writers hit that brick wall between 30 n 50 thousand. They key is to climb the damn thing! :)
Lovely to hear from you all.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Fantastic. I look forward to being ignored by you when you get famous.

Col Bury said...

Thanks, mate.

Matt Hilton said...


Anonymous said...

Very inspiring post, Col, nice one on achieving your milestone. Now to tether it to a tree while you crack on with the sequel. Your dedication will bring fabulous more rewards.

Anonymous said...

I love how your dedication has paid off.

Seaview said...

Well done Col, I've just arrived here via Talkback and you're living proof that a writer can do it despite many obstacles - and obviously with talent! Well done.

Col Bury said...

AuntAgnes, Jeanette & Seaview,
Thanks for popping by n your kind comments - they're greatly appreciated.