The Madness of JJ

My intention was to spend a few days finding a 3000 word extract to use for the NW submission. Piece of cake, right? I’ll just do a minor touch-up on a chapter I’ve written for the novel; like air brushing a model. Instead, I spent my time hyperventilating into a paper bag. It’s hard to figure out what my best work is. What best represents me? Writing is the sum of all things: serious bits, funny lines, quirky moments, even those average pages in between. So what is a panicked writer to do? Work up something new of course – something written last minute.  I sent the piece to my Uber Editor and he emailed me immediately. You can’t send this. Send the JJ stuff. Send in Jilly! As if my protagonist was some Special Ops commando reserved for nerve wrenching occasions. He tells me that I may want to consider dumping the rest of the novel except for JJ. It is only 70,000 words, he says. Too numb to argue, I put JJ in an envelope and sent it off. Afterward, I question my decision. What am I afraid of? That I’ll bore my readers? That I won’t be able to sustain their interest? How can I write a novel if I don’t have the confidence that I can sustain?


  1. Fran

    I am so with you on this. I went through the same process for New Writing Ventures yesterday. 3,000 words sounds easy but it’s just too short – it’s impossible to get across what the novel is trying to do and anyway my best bits are random sentences flung around all over the place, not in one genius narrative stretch. But I threw a bit of Daniel and a bit of my new exerise man their way. Good luck with yours – if it’s some of the Jilly bits I know then it’s fab.

  2. kadfr

    It’s so easy for your editor to suggest dumping 70,000 words. It wasn’t as though he’s written it. I bet he’s a failed novelist who can’t even finish a short story and can only write vicariously through your novel. Don’t trust editors. Sneaky bastards, the lot of them.

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