Finding “da noive”!!!

February 11, 2010 at 22:15 (1)

Finished my latest edit of the third book of the new series today. I haven’t yet shared any of the books with anyone, because I don’t like showing a book to even my agent until I’ve done 3 or 4 drafts. I had planned to email the first three books to my agent once I’d finished editing the third this afternoon. But when I was done, I hesitated, then decided not to send it to him. The series can’t start to come out until at least 2012, maybe even later if I choose to release another one or two one-off books before I move on (which I might or might not do). So there’s no rush in sending it to him. I figured I’d just leave it until I’d done another draft or written a few more books in the series.

I went for a walk after that. It was a lovely sunny day and the hills looked delightful in the distance across the river. Goldie came along with me and had fun chasing a nice big stone which I kept throwing for him. (He chases stones, not sticks, because he chews through sticks too easily!!) But despite all that, I felt uneasy. Something wasn’t sitting right with me. I’ve always found walking a good way to thrash out one’s problems — I’ve often worked through the knots of a tricky book while out walking. So, while I was strolling along the banks of the Shannon, I looked inward and tried to figure out what was itching away at me inside. And then it clicked. I realised the REAL reason why I hadn’t emailed my agent the new books as planned.

I was afraid.

Sounds silly, I know. I mean, I’m DARREN SHAN, I’ve released over 20 books, sold about 15 million copies worldwide, there’s been a film made of some of my stories… You’d think submitting a new book would be water off a duck’s back to me!!! But the thing about it is, when it comes to my work, I don’t think of myself in those terms, as a guy who’s made it and has a lot of pull and who can do pretty much anything he wants at the moment. In my head, I’m no different than I was 20 years ago when I wrote my first book. More accomplished, sure, able to do a hell of a lot more now than I was then. But I’m still a guy who loves telling stories, who struggles to create them, who does everything he can to knock them into as fine a shape as I can, and who worries that nobody else might love them quite the way I do. When I’m in the middle of a series it’s different, the hard early work has been done, I know that people are enjoying what I’m doing, that expectation is there for the sequels. But with a brand new series, breaking new grouond, trying something a bit different, pushing the boundaries… well, there’s no guarantee that people will like it, or want more, or come with me on this particular journey. I THINK that they will. I BELIEVE that they will. But there’s still that little nagging voice at the back of my mind, which was there when I started The Saga, and there when I wrote The Demonata, whispering “It’s rubbish. You’re useless. Nobody will like it. Throw it away.”

In some ways writing gets easier as you progress. Success is great and it gives you confidence and lets you try new things. But it’s a double-edged sword. In other ways it gives fresh power to that nasty little niggling voice — you become conscious of your fan base and start worrying that you might disappoint them if you don’t serve them up exactly what they want. Or that they might get bored of you if you don’t keep trying new things and surprising them. Or… You get the picture.

As soon as I got back from my walk, I emailed the 3 books to my agent. Because we HAVE to face our fears in life. If we don’t, we can’t move forward, we’ll just stay in our comfort zone and rot. My books are all about people who step up to the mark and don’t let their fears dictate the course of their life — I’d be a poor master if didn’t try to match the deeds of my fictional creations!!! Maybe my agent WILL hate the new books, Maybe he’ll ring me up, tell me they’re useless, that I should throw them away and start again with something different. I don’t think he will (I think the new series rocks!!) but there’s a chance that he might, the same way there’s a chance that we’ll suffer rejection and pain ANY time that we step up and confront our fears, send a new book to an agent, or try out for the football team, or apply for a job, or ask a girl if she wants to go steady. We can’t afford to play it safe in life. We have to confront and deal with rejection and the possibility of it. Otherwise we’re cowards, and who wants to face a life of nothing but cowardice? Better to stand tall and be rejected than cower in a corner and avoid the chance of rejection.

Life’s a big, savage, unpredictable beast. Each one of us has to decide at some point (normally quite a lot of points), do we stand up to it and risk being ripped apart in our efforts to tame the beast, or do we meekly lie down and let it slowly but surely eat us alive? The next time YOU hear that voice whispering inside your head, urging caution and predicting doom, go for a nice long walk like I did, track it down, look it in the eye, sneer at its fury, and tell it, “Go on, life, do your worst!!!” You’ll feel a hell of a lot better afterwards, believe me — even if it tramples you to dust in the process!!!!!!!


  1. Miley said,

    Good for you! Whenever I’m afraid of something, I do my best to overcome it… I love the feeling I get when I get over it-it’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

  2. chloe copland said,

  3. Paul said,

    Hey Darren. I once sat beside George the Rugby commentator on TV and I was giving a talk on mobile phone stuff and he was the main after dinner speaker. As i went up to speak he wished me luck and confided that he was totally scared (well he used different language at the time but not suitable for this blog). Now he goes on TV every weekend talking to people about sport and even he was scared to go up there. It is in us all. The new books will be great also. Cheers Paul

  4. kimy said,

    man if you hadn’t finished some of your books i don’t know what i would have done, and i would love to be a writer when i grow up but i can never seem to find an ending to my stories. i have ten beginnings and no ends.

  5. Nienke said,

    Hi !
    I’m a girl of 14,almost 15 ( 23-3-1995)
    From the Netherlands.
    I must say that this talk was really inspiring.
    I’m in love with some boy. but I’m afraid he doesn’t even know who I am.
    I don’t have the balls to say… Hi dude ,, would you like to go to the cinema with me ?
    I think i may would … i’m just going to ask it tomorrow in school.
    I’m a bigg fan of your work and I’m trying to read many of your books ( a few aren’t published in dutch ) In english. I loved darren shan the half-vampire.
    And i think it was a great book, and am recommanding it to all of my friends.
    The ending of the serie was great! he sended the diary to himself. what a great idea !

  6. Nienke said,

    -XXX- Nienke from the netherlands


  7. Alice said,

    Wow… Inspiring 😉
    I have to say that even if compareing YOUR work to mine would be something impossible I struggle with the same problems. I’m a young writer, trying my best to show up my work to get publisher. But yet I’m afraid to acctualy contact somebody, send my stories for contest… But I must confess that after reading this post I fell much more confident.
    And maby it will sound stupidly but – Thank You master Shan. For everything…

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