First Year Tally – Jasper Fforde

Thanks to the Internet, everyone is but an email away. Among other things, that enables all of us to discover Jasper Fforde’s response to my First Year Tally questions. Without further ado, I leave the page to our British guest blogger and the story of his beginning.

I started writing in the Summer of 1988. I knew that if I didn’t start soon, my twins would be born and I’d never get started. Writing, I suspected, was like a train. Hard to get going, but unstoppable once on the move. A year later and I had three short stories, and two daughters. I finally finished my first novel in 1993, and finished by sixth in 1999. I was eventually published in 2001, thirteen years after I began. 

The thing was, this was not thirteen years of rejection, navel gazing, tearing of hair and plaintive wails to anyone who would listen, this was thirteen years quietly getting on with the one thing you have to do to be a professional writer: Learn how to write. How do you even begin to tell a story? What’s funny, what’s sad, what’s not? Why does that idea work? Why do I have to delete six months of work? 

Why the hell are we doing this in the first place? 

Easy. Because it’s what we do. It’s what we are. Writers write. They just can’t help themselves. One day and seemingly almost by accident  they get good enough for other people to read. And that’s pretty cool, but even then you’re not safe. You now have to battle to get established, and stay published.

On the long road to publishing, your first year is something you only vaguely remember. It’s the foundations you can’t see underneath your house. It’s the beginning of your experience, the start of the adventure. And if you can pass the first year breezily and without dejection, and move eventually from the rejection of your fifth novel to the beginning of your sixth, you have definitely got what it takes.

Jasper Fforde’s tenth novel is published in March 2011. He has sold two million books worldwide and been on the best-seller lists both in the UK and the US. He is entirely self-taught, through diligent re-editing and experimentation. It took him thirteen years and six novels. Anyone else can do the same.

Two of Jasper Fforde's covers

If you would like to know more on Jasper Fforde and his work, you can find him at
One of Jasper Fforde’s novel (winner’s choice) will be part of the book selection gift awarded to one of the commenters at the end of the month.


About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

One response to “First Year Tally – Jasper Fforde

  • Charlotte Jane Ivory

    “One day and seemingly almost by accident they get good enough for other people to read.” Great stuff 🙂 Thanks for contributing!
    I’ve really enjoyed your Thursday Next novels, especially “The Well of Lost Plots”. Your Miss Havisham character is an inspiration (to writers, not motorists!)

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