6342 words

All of them terrible of course, when I’m in a certain mood. Their only function to form fraudulent sentences. Most of it a garbled version of my life. All of it an unimaginative reassembly of reality.

I’m writing a novel. There I’ve said it. If I never say it, there’s even less chance I’ll do it.

It’s set in a nursing home and heavily inspired by Frau B. But the story is not hers. It’s made up.

The fictional aspect is especially important. Frau B’s already gifting me with inspiration.  It would taint our meetings to ask for biographical details.. for permission to print old photographs.. for a linear summary of her life. We dip in and out of each other’s lives every week. It would seem wrong to go excavating instead.

I began it as part of NaNoWriMo, a worldwide online challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

An impossible task for me, I knew. Not that I would have otherwise, but I was working full-time and had plenty of other activities going on. Still, it was a little kick and I was receptive to it. Plus, they sent you motivational e-mails and had a function allowing you to update your word-count, which I did obsessively, almost sentence by sentence.

It’s hard to articulate the kind of self-doubt that comes with writing. For me, it never gets easier. I’m painfully slow. I am not full of ideas. It rarely flows.

I compare myself with the writers I admire and despair. I Google videos and interviews with them for evidence of their self-doubt. Usually you can find some.

I feel uniquely empty, incapable of adding anything of interest to the world, amazed at others’ ability to make conversation, to come up with witty responses, to communicate unfettered. I imagine how much I could put to paper with those talents.

My news feeds full of the atrocities in Aleppo, I feel all the more ashamed of even having such thoughts.

Still, I haven’t deleted the document. It’s still on my computer.

And it wouldn’t be if I didn’t believe, somewhere small and very deep down, that it was possible.

So I’m out of the closet. I’m trying to write a novel.

I read a piece of advice earlier that the first step to becoming a writer is to call yourself one.

I’m not ready to yet. But maybe I’ll change my mind once I hit the 10,000 mark.

I’ll occasionally write about writing here. Perhaps it will even be a welcome distraction from the task in hand.


My writing corner (laptop replaces typewriter)

18 thoughts on “6342 words

  1. Keep writing! Stephen King wrote an interesting book called On Writing. I think his approach is to read as much as possible. It’s probably more important to call yourself a writer when you don’t believe it. Don’t wait for the proof. Your inner critic will ensure you wait forever! And will deprive us all of a great novel.


  2. You wrote 6342 words for NaNoWrMo? That’s 6342 more words than I wrote- you are definitely a writer!

    Self-doubt is a part of the package, any writer that says they don’t have any is lying or deluded.

    After not writing for 6 months’ I’ve taken up the challenge of writing a post a day for an undefined length of time. I am definitely deluded. Past experience tells me I can’t sustain that for very long. Blind optimism tells me that this time will be different.



    • Well, I’ve written 6342 up to now so not all of them were even in November 🙂 Thank you so much for your encouragement though and please let me offer some back: I always love reading your posts. I find them interesting and thought-provoking. Your writing appeals to me even though I’m not part of your faith, which of course shines through in a lot of your posts. It’s the way you see the world that hooks me in as a reader. So please, do keep writing! And all the best for your challenge 🙂


  3. Kate, you are a writer and a fantastic one at that, and as someone who also struggles with labelling myself as such, I related so hard to everything in this post (the self-doubt, the feeling of emptiness, questioning the integrity of my creative impulses a dozen times a day…)
    6342 words is an amazing achievement already, but do keep forging on with it, it’s very clear to me that there is a novel in you that the world deserves to see!
    If you’re ever home and in the market for tea and frustrated writer chats, I’m back in Ireland these days! Much love. xo


    • Marianne, that means an awful lot to me, thank you so much. I’ve been fan-girling over your writing for years (and recommending your blog to strangers) so it’s especially lovely to be encouraged by someone whose writing is as amazing as yours. I’ll be in Dublin over Christmas and always in the market for tea. Would be lovely to catch up and talk about the agony (and rumour has it, enjoyment) of writing with you xxx


  4. Wow! That’s brilliant! Great news!! Doubts are just a form of self-censorship and quality control. They’re your friends. Listen to them, heed their advice and let them guide you, but don’t ever let them put you down. Because sometimes they can be mean too. Just ignore them when they get like that and do your own thing. You’re an amazing writer. Keep going and good luck! 🙂


    • Aw, thank you so much! That’s really kind. I love the idea of doubts as your friends. I’m going to treat them as that from now on. And when they get too mean, I guess it’s time for a cooling off period 🙂 Really appreciate the encouragement!


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