My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome N.P. Griffiths to talk about how the power of patience relates to Isabella’s Heiress.
What is my superpower? Hmmm…this is a difficult one. I’m pretty sure everybody can write, and most people have an imagination which they use for anything from choosing an exotic location for a holiday to picturing their team winning a title or holding up a trophy. Admittedly, that last one requires a more active imagination for some than others (tragically, this includes me, as being a West Ham United and Houston Texan’s fan is a painful combination if ever there was one), so it’s not either of these.
I suppose I could say that it is a clear vision of what it is I want to bring to the page, but that isn’t true either as I am never too sure what’s coming next when I write. That is constantly informed by the character’s actions before I reach that stage.
So, if I had to say what my superpower is, I would say that it is patience. That’s it folks: the ability to sit back and wait between drafts or to spend that extra bit of time getting a scene right. It’s not spectacular or particularly attention grabbing, but, for a writer at least, it’s incredibly important. It’s the difference between a book being sent out to agents or published online, between one half-baked and one that is finished with more polished prose or satisfying narrative.
Patience is something that can be learned. It isn’t pixy dust, and it doesn’t live at the end of a rainbow. It is, however, in very short supply in new writers. This is normal; certainly, when I first started on my book, Isabella’s Heiress, way back in the dim and distant past (okay, January 2007) I was raring to go and desperate to get it out to the book reading world. The first draft took me nine months to finish, and the moment of elation when I typed the final full stop is something I still remember. What followed was several years of redrafts, rejections by agents, much wailing and gnashing of teeth, then more redrafts. It wasn’t exactly how I pictured it.
Over time you find yourself building up your patience rather like you build up your natural resistance to common illnesses. You develop an understanding (for understanding read thick skin) that rejection letters are not personal and that there are always options out there should you find that your first efforts go unrewarded. For writers, today’s world has changed beyond all recognition from the one we lived in just five years ago. Online marketplaces and author services now mean that what was the sole domain of agents and publishers are now open to all.
This is where my superpower develops a second, useful, trait. It’s the ability to parse through multiple websites looking for the relevant articles and reviews. It’s not that the stuff out there is not good quality; it’s great and written by like minded fans. It’s just that there is so much of it! I have now got down to about a dozen sites that I go to regularly for information in the fantasy/sci-fi arena or, for that matter, just for general interest.
It’s said that patience is a virtue. It’s a cliché but no less true for that. It is also my superpower and can be yours to. Just be realistic, take your time with your work and understand that this is a deeply competitive marketplace.
All you have to do is be patient.
About the author (taken from his website):
I have been writing since I was a child and have whiled away many hours putting pen to paper (at least until I got my first computer). I have always enjoyed reading as well. For me it was, and still is, an escape from work or school and has allowed me to suspend reality for a few hours on many a dull day (thank you Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Robert Harris et al).
After school I did the sensible thing and got a job, eventually finding myself working IT support in London. In 2005 I realised that I wanted to do something that I could look back on with a sense of satisfaction. So in 2006 and 2007 I spent a year at City University where I graduated from the Certificate in Novel Writing course before going on to do several other courses at West Dean College a few years later.
Whilst at City University I decided to try and bring to life a story that had been working its way through the outer reaches of my mind. The idea was based around a vivid dream I had about a woman out of place in a London she recognised but wasn’t a part of. That woman became Emma Elliott and from that dream a story came about that filled a twilight world with angels, guides and initiates.
After countless late nights accompanied by easy listening and black coffee refills, the end result became Isabella’s Heiress.
You can find out more about Isabella’s Heiress or N.P. Griffiths on his website.