What To Do When Your Story Has 11 Fingers – Day 332

Got an hour in today. Inspired writing, I thought.

But is it really?

I’ve talked in these pages before that sometimes I have no idea if what I’m writing is any good.

However this is kept me going: I remember back in the day, I would be nervous about my day-job writing, especially if it was something new for me. (In fact, it was the things I was most confident about that turned out to be the stinkers… having a good feeling was a bad sign, apparently.)

These days, I can be pretty objective about my writing, excise the crap from the good stuff, and be confident that the stuff I’m writing is doing what I set out for it to do.

But still not in my novel writing. That’s okay though — I think that as I progress as a novelist, that too will come.

Rex Pickett said it this way though:

The hard part is when you give birth to something and then it has 11 fingers or whatever. You don’t know what it is… but you have no choice, you have to go to the world with it.

You don’t know what it is…” does that mean you never get perspective on your own work? Outside opinion will certainly always be important, especially when you’re working on something as big and as sweeping as a novel. I hope, at least, that I’ll be able to have a better sense of what is working and what is not in the future.

Until then, I’ll just enjoy the fact that it is all working bang on, thank you very much. Helps to keep the confidence up anyway, eh?


Here’s the video the quotation comes from:

Novel Writing Totals

Today: 1 hour
To date: 158.5

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4 Responses to What To Do When Your Story Has 11 Fingers – Day 332

  1. Kelly says:


    I know exactly what you mean! The writing I do for clients gets feedback on such a regular basis that it become a cycle of reinforcement—I think I did well, the work goes out and does what it needs to, I know I did well, the next time I’m more sure I’m doing well (if I learn from each experience, lol).

    But the writing I do in a garret—ack! Writing that’s outside of my professional work doesn’t normally do as much bouncing off others or off nice neutral judges like “did it make money,” so how do I know if it has 11 fingers??

    (I do have people to bounce my in-a-garret work off. But it’s a less convincing bounce, for sure!)

    “The easy part is having fun with it up in your imagination.” That was a nice way for Mr. Pickett to end that little blurb. 🙂


    Kelly’s most recent blog post: Inspiration Points: Dying Craft? Be Amazing and Hang On

    • Graham Strong says:

      Hi Kelly,

      You’re right – not bouncing it off people ensures I’m writing in a bubble. What addes to it for me is the fact that I’m being a little experiemental with it — hell, fiction in general is an experiment for me — so that does increase the uncertainty.

      On the flip side, the prospect of actually knowing is scary too. But as Pickett said, you have to go to the world with it eventually.

      Yeah, he’s got a few good musings there, especially on Sideways. I like that he takes the time to address writers directly as well as his fans though.


  2. Natasha says:

    This is everything I feel about everything I have ever written and yes, a good feeling is a bad sign

    • Graham Strong says:

      Hi Natasha — welcome to the blog!

      Yes, I still get nervous when I think I’ve written something “really good”… It’s the stuff I’m not sure about that seems to hit home runs. (So maybe being unsure of the novel is a good sign in itself…?)


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