Friday, 9 August 2013

The Nirvana of Writing

EDGE Author Sara Grant 
is falling in love again

I’m experiencing writer’s nirvana. I’m more than 30,000 words into my new teen novel, which I’ve tentatively titled Mind Fields. After many failed attempts, I finally have a pretty solid outline, an interesting setting to explore, a cast of engaging characters, and time each day to write. For me that’s better than winning the lottery.
As I’m writing and discovering the story, I keep hearing Marlene Dietrich sing:

“Falling in love again
Never Wanted to
What am I to do?
I can't help it.” 

Until now it’s been a battle. Me against the novel I wanted it to be. And then Me against the novel it wanted to be. I tried several times to start Mind Fields, but something kept stopping me. Starting a new project is scary. There’s always the fear of failure that lurks at the back of my mind. I can’t help but hear the one-star reviews for my yet-to-be-penned story or worse yet see the pile of rejection letters from publishers. If I start, then I can fail. If it remains a glimmering idea in my head, it will always be perfect.

I also know the all-consuming stress and obsession of revising a novel and polishing every word until it shines. Once I start, then I’m heading for lots of time hunched over a computer. The story and characters will invade my brain with ideas at 3 a.m. and revision notes almost constantly.

But me and Marlene can’t help it.

Fear and stress only momentarily cloud my progress. Then I remember why I do it.

I love it.

Then it’s hello nirvana!

This is my favorite stage of the novel-writing process. It’s all going well. The characters are behaving. I can't wait to see what will happen next. I’m sticking to my outline but am pleasantly surprised by twists and turns that add to what I’ve already created. This could be my best novel yet. Amazon will have to adjust its rating system to add a sixth star because five is not enough. The nominations will fall from the heavens like manna. Reviewers will use words like ‘genius’ and ‘beyond original’ and maybe even ‘mind blowing’.

A writer can dream, can't she?

I’ve learned to enjoy this part because it won’t last. Once I have a rough draft, I will start to see its flaws. Spot the cracks in the plot. Discover my characters’ shortcomings.

Then my writers group, agent and editors will read it. Don’t get me wrong. I'm a fan of feedback. I treasure my agent’s and editors’ suggestions. They’ve taken my previous novels to the next level. But revision and re-envisioning your masterpiece takes patience and practice -- and hard work.

Each book has its own process and challenges. I’ve learned from every love and loss and misadventure. Sometimes it takes two major revisions to iron out the plot; sometimes it takes nine. Perhaps to find the voice I must first write it in an omniscient point of view then try it in first but settle on a close third-person narration. All these trials and errors before, during and after the draft are necessary -- and I'm learning to love them too.

But enough writing about writing. I’m off to discover what happens next and enjoy the euphoria while it lasts.


A Few Announcements

Win signed copies of 10 YA books 
featured at the Edinburgh Book Festival!

I’m thrilled to once again be speaking at the Edinburgh Book Festival. This year I was invited by four Edinburgh-bound authors of young adult fiction to participate in a pre-festival book hunt. We are giving away signed copies of ten of our books. Visit my web site for event details and more info about our giveaway :

Our book hunt closes at midnight GMT on 26th August 2013.

Undiscovered Voices

The deadline is fast approaching for the next Undiscovered Voices. If you are an unagented and unpublished writer or illustrator focusing on fiction for children and teens, check out

From the three previous anthologies, 22 of the 36 selected authors – including EDGE authors Dave, Katie, Bryony and me – have received publishing contracts for more than 70 books.

The submission deadline is 15th August.

If you plan to submit, good luck!

Sara Grant is the author of the dark, futuristic teen thrillers Dark Parties and Half Lives. She also writes Magic Trix, a fun friendship series for young readers. She is the co-creator and co-editor of Undiscovered Voices.



  1. Such familiar ground Sara and its the one I'm ducking at the moment ( but its not quite the right time for me) but I totally agree - once you dive off the cliff and take the risk, you're flying with the wind in your hair and nothing comes close.

  2. Ooh - I love that nirvana stage! Enjoy it, Sara, and I love the title Mind Fields.

  3. Empathy from me Sara. I've just had a weekend of - Me against the novel I wanted it to be. And then Me against the novel it wanted to be - then the protagonist took over and it's back to being the novel she wants it to be. It's much easier that way.

  4. You put it so well. I so know what you mean, I seem to be entering the very same stage. But hey if the next one is anything like the genius of Half Lives you've got nothing to fear!

  5. 'Mind Fields' is a great title and so envy you your 'pretty solid outline Sara!

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