DREAMING OF A DEBUT: PART 4
Debut Authors Offer Support & Open Up About Their Process
This is the final instalment of the dreaming of a debut series where authors who have taken those steps to get their books onto our shelves share their experiences of writing a book. We’ve heard from Chloe Ashby, Liv Little, Kate Sawyer and this final interview is with Florence Given.
I hope these interviews have reaffirmed some things about writing a novel, but also demystified some ideas too. I wanted to do this series because I know how lonely it can be working on your first novel. It’s such a solitary process and when you’re doing it for the first time it’s gruelling and you have no idea if you’re moving in the right direction. There are often moments of despair and hopelessness: ‘look at all the time i’ve wasted’; ‘this is terrible,’; and ‘i can’t do it.’ But as I explained on my writing retreat where I didn’t write a single work, there is no such thing as wasted time when it comes to being with your novel, sitting and crafting her. You need to smooth her edges and accept her foibles, wrangle with them. Cynthia Ozick said:
‘I read in order to find out what I need to know: To illuminate the riddle’
And writing is much like that for me. I write because I need to find out something I’m desperate to know and understand, it’s a process of excavation. To make sense of my own riddle. So no matter what happens to your novel, no matter if you finish, no matter if it gets published, no matter if it’s a Sunday Times bestseller. Remember it’s purpose: the dance you do together to deconstruct the riddle. It’s what’s keeping me going with my next novel as I reach the 40,000 word mark.
I’ll leave you now with Florence… (full disclosure i’m her literary agent!)
She is a number one Sunday Times bestselling author and social activist. Her first book, Women Don’t Owe Your Pretty (Octopus, 2020) was a breakout sensation and record-breaking title. It has sold over 200,000 copies in the UK alone, and has been translated into 16 languages across the world. The book featured over 22 times in the Sunday Times bestseller chart and Florence is the youngest author to hold a position in the top five for a consecutive three months in a row. Her debut novel Girlcrush was was a number one Sunday Times bestseller.
In this final instalment Florence talks about getting over the sort of writer she thought she would be. She makes a good point about letting go of continual self-editing in order to get the story down on the page, reminds us of the power of not starting at the beginning and the magic of your USP as a writer.