Most writers can identify with Iris Murdoch's struggle to 'write something good'

A new archive of letters by Iris Murdoch, a renowned writer, who I discovered because I had to read her novel, The Sandcastle for English A Level (and enjoyed it), has revealed her struggles with her early, unpublished novels. This comes as no surprise because every writer struggles to begin with and some are plagued with insecurities for most of their writing life wondering if each novel is good enough.

The correspondence between Iris Murdoch and French novelist Raymond Queneau spans 29 years and reveals a woman riddled with self-doubt who was at times filled with "hatred and contempt" for her prose and wondered if she would "ever write something good".She was thought to have attempted between four and six novels before her first book, Under the Net, was published in 1954.

Most writers experience false starts and write for years without publication, learning their craft and finding their style. I was writing fiction for many years and had written five novels before I was published, although my first unpublished novels were regional sagas before I turned to crime fiction writing and found my style and my niche.

My first attempt at a suspense novel got me a literary agent but no publisher, and my second effort created Inspector Andy Horton and won a prize in a writing competition.  Three years later Inspector Andy Horton appeared in the first in my marine mystery crime series, Tide of Death first published in 2006.  Since then I have had five published in the Inspector Horton series and two crime thriller novels published, In For The Kill and In Cold Daylight.  My crime novels have been hailed as 'exemplary' police procedurals in the States and my writing likened to that of the great crime writer, Ed McBain. But I don't think the insecurities ever go away.

Despite good reviews every writer wonders about the worthiness of their work, and of course, along with increasing sales of your novels come the bad reviews. But all that goes with the territory.  You write not for the critics but for your readers and most of all for the sheer joy of writing - at least I do.

I can also identify with Iris Murdoch when she says: "While I am writing it, it's always surrounded by such an aura of creative aspiration and joy, clairvoyance and what not, it seems better than it is. Then afterwards the light is withdrawn and it seems quite dead and worthless. Just now I'm still in the clairvoyant stage and knowing the secrets of the seas."

I am sure that most writers will understand exactly what she means. 


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