So, how’s the novel going?

by Jennifer Bryce

How I cringe when someone asks that question! It’s not that my book is going all that badly, it’s just that, unless you’ve written a novel yourself, you have no idea how long it takes – even once you have a beginning, middle and an end – to get it into shape and to a stage where you are prepared to send it off somewhere. The advice is: don’t send it out until you are absolutely happy with it. The problem is: I’ve never been completely happy with anything I’ve produced in my life – that includes music performances, essays, theses, as well as fiction.  The good thing about competitions and anthologies is that they have deadlines. You have to shut your eyes and press ‘send’ at 11.59 pm on the due by date. I try to impose some deadlines myself, but it’s easy to justify shifting the goal posts. I am heartened by knowing that Kate Grenville wrote about 40 drafts of The Secret River.

Where I write

Not just a room of my own, I have an apartment. I chose it with a view to writing. And indeed the view is important to me.  The sea would be even better, but I am happy with this view across to some public gardens.

View from my window

View from my window

It’s a bit like being in a tree-house.

Here’s the view from Virginia Woolf’s window at Rodmell .


My view isn’t quite as expansive, but I like to look down on the world from a leafy branch.