Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Forgotten Guide to Happiness by Sophie Jenkins! I'm thrilled to bring you a piece from Sophie about the Power of Perseverance.
What They Say:
You can lose your memory, but you never forget how to love…
Lana Green has a talent for pushing people away. As a writer, she’s perfectly happy to be left alone with her books. But when she meets Jack Buchanan and Nancy Ellis Hall, Lana’s solitary life will change for ever.
Nancy has dementia, and social services believe this makes her vulnerable. But Lana can see the funny, brilliant woman underneath the illness.
As Lana and Jack struggle to keep Nancy out of a care home, Lana starts to question everything she ever thought mattered.
Because what’s the point in stories, if there is no one to share them with?
The power of perseverance by Sophie Jenkins
In The Forgotten Guide to Happiness, the heroine Lana’s first subject for her writing class is about the power of perseverance. I definitely think if there is one quality that is needed more than anything else to be a published writer, it’s that.
For some writers, the act of writing is an end in itself, especially if it takes the form of a journal or a memoir, but the ambition of most writers is to get published.
Being published is a vindication of all the time spent jotting down good ideas, sticking one of those waterproof notepads up in the shower just in case, putting post-it notes all down one wall and then taking them off and trying to fill in the gaps left in the plaster with felt tips and match pots. Then there’s all the research involved. It always seems important to be sure of the facts before starting a story but researching interesting things on the Internet leads to finding other interesting things and that’s a couple of hours of valuable time gone finding out about things you’re never going to need. Some writers suggest doing the research once the book is finished so as not to get side-tracked from the main business, which is good advice if you can hold your nerve.
My heroine is one of those lucky people whose first book got published but it’s a fairly rare thing to happen. For most writers it’s a matter of trial and error, of writing and rewriting, seeing what works, of having a focus and of realising that you are going to have to be brutal in the editing process because out of the daily target of words, only 30% of them actually add anything to the story while the other 70% have taken you off in a completely different direction for no obvious reason.
The main benefit of persevering is that the process of writing gets easier with practice and the more we write, the better we get. It’s a skill, and it’s one we can learn. Although some people pick it up faster than others, twenty hours is now believed to be what it takes to become proficient and that’s just forty-five minutes a day for a month.
Lana finds out that her message doesn’t go down too well with the students in her class because persevering with anything implies that it’s time-consuming and repetitive. No more facing the blank screen on a Sunday with folded arms - writing a little every day is a lot more productive than trying to do a lot once a week.
Ultimately, after a few false starts on her own new novel, when Lana Green finds a subject that grabs her she doesn’t let it go. Her agent is happy and that is the dream result that all writers are looking for.
The Forgotten Guide to Happiness was a pure joy to read! I adored Lana as a main character, although sometimes I wanted to shout at her. I loved her relationship with Nancy and her stepson Jack and the way they changed each other throughout the course of the story.
It was a great insight into the novel writing process to, as it's something that interests me. I understand all too well procrastination and need to learn perseverance. I loved the writing class that Lana taught too. The characters and snippets of their novels were great fun!
This book also shows that what we think we want in a hero, isn't necessarily what we need and that sometimes we don't really even need saving.
This was just a lovely, sweet, joyful story about second chances, life as a writer and finding love where we don't expect it. 9/10