Sure, finding a voice is difficult. Sure, getting published can be a real trial. Sure, all the stumping around for publicity (or worse, lack thereof) can wear you out.

But at least the writing gets easier after the first few books, right?


Not just any writer would tell you this (it’s an admission of weakness, hopelessness, pessimism and despair and I SO want you to feel it too, gentle reader) but the writing — in actual fact — gets harder. And harder. And harder. With each book you write.

HOW CAN THIS BE? Is there no God?? (well no, obviously, but that was book five).

Surely one’s skills improve, structure falls into place, the same mistakes can be avoided? SURELY?

Oh tut tut. You know so very little about life.

If you think the first one’s hard to write, wait till you get to number six.

The tragedy is, that in order to write a book properly, you need to be in touch with the deepest parts of yourself. You need to be on a constant voyage of discovery, mining your dark places, thinking things through that have bothered you for a lifetime.

So. Think about what happens when a miner brings up the first layer of diamond. He/she then goes on to the next layer down. And is that next layer comprised of more and bigger diamonds just lying around in a soft bed of sand waiting to be plucked and polished?

(Cue demonic mirthless laughter).

That next layer down is deeper and darker with less oxygen and more chance of catastrophic collapse. The canaries start choking to death. The candles flicker and gas leaks in, threatening explosion.

Yup, that’s what the sixth book is like. And the seventh? Well. That one will, no doubt, be even worse.

Not meaning to depress you.

I’m just saying.

Be seeing you.


15 thoughts on “Writer’s Secret Revealed: The Muse is a Bastard.

  1. Ray P Hewitt 7 years ago

    It gets harder…?? I expect I shall go mad .. (be fun seeing Transvestite Bob again though 🙂 )

    1. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      A guy’s gotta have old friends, Ray.

    2. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      p.s. would that be imaginary transvestite Bob, or transvestite Bob the scary mental hospital orderly?

  2. Jody Casella 7 years ago

    Meg, I was thinking about this very thing today as I press forward through book number nine (books one through five will stay tucked away in dark desk drawers; books six through eight are presently floating around in the nether regions of the Publishing World, also strangely like dark desk drawers, at least in my experience. Since I am apparently writing for my own amusement, I thought it would get easier over time. But alas, no.

  3. Antony John 7 years ago

    This is so (painfully, horribly) true. At the end of every book, I congratulate myself on lessons learned (“I’ll never do THAT again”) and obstacles overcome (“So THAT’S the secret to the three-act structure”). But then I commence the next book with a dull situation involving yawn-inducing characters conveyed in flaccid prose, and I’m reminded what a sisyphean endeavour novel writing is.

    Oh, well. At least I’m doing it with more confidence these days.

  4. Nina Killham 7 years ago

    Damn, and I woke up so perky this morning. It’s all too depressing. But I’m glad to know I’m not alone. I thought it was supposed to get easier as well. Hahahahaha.

  5. Emma Beasley 7 years ago

    I’m 14, I have written a book (which is a true life animal story, that I have re-drafted a countless number of times and this time I acctualy think it’s finished!!) and im 2-3 chapters away from finishing my first fantasy book but I have absolutely no idea of how to end it, because at the moment my two main charecters are stuck in a passage way in a castle and at the other end is a big monster (which I don’t know what mythical creature its to be yet) and I am every so slightly stumped, so I see what you mean by it gets harder by the number, even though this is only my second, as the first one was easy enough (took 1 and a half years thats with the re-drafts as well) but this one is 2 years old now !!! and I really feel sorry for those poor charecters stuck in that passage way in that horrid castle, I wouldn’t like to be in their position!!

  6. Beth Webb 7 years ago

    Oh help, I’ve just finished number 13, got 14 to do in the next year and my publisher wants to re-issuing numbers 2, 11 and 12. This is beginning to feel like a chinese takeaway menu, and the muse just gets fussier, more difficult to please and is definately not ‘a-mused’. Can I have beansprouts with that please?

  7. Jane Houng 7 years ago

    Yes, but you’re still my favourite contemporary writer. Just ADORED There is No Dog.

  8. Judy Astley 7 years ago

    Meg you are so damn right. I’m scratching at the dusty floor of number 17…

  9. Kirsten Baron 7 years ago

    Are you trying to scare off the competition? If it’s me you’re gunning for, it’s working: If I’m going to spend lots of time on Things That Don’t Sell, then I’d rather continue with my current occupation of gluing battered pieces of meccano to a canvas. At least it’s Fun.

    1. Kirsten Baron 7 years ago

      Have just re-read my comment and realise how conceited it sounds! Flippancy gone wrong. Please ignore, or even better: delete.

    2. Meg Rosoff 7 years ago

      Didn’t take it as one bit conceited. In fact meccano on canvas was tempting me mightily.

  10. Pingback: Inspiring morning… | Claire Hennessy

  11. Tabitha Suzuma 7 years ago

    So glad I’m not alone with this. I was expecting second book syndrome, and I got it with ‘From Where I Stand’. But just after writing ‘Forbidden’ which I thought HAD to be the toughest, most painful and exhausting book I could ever write in my life, I now find myself facing book no.6, and proving to be one heck of a battle!
    Your mining analogy hits the nail on the head for me. After ‘Forbidden’, I don’t think there are any deeper and darker places for me to go!

Comments are closed.