The writing journey is a baffling thing, and no two roads are ever the same.
On the surface, my journey tells me I’m in limbo; that in-between and nowhere place. The one where everybody else is bagging the awards, getting signed up for multi-book deals and Netflix adaptations, and smiling sweetly – pinkies extended – with their flutes of champagne for page three of The Bookseller.
But how do I know that my beloved Book 4 hasn’t been shoveled out of the slush pile of the four pretty big publishers deciding its *current* fate? How do I know that it’s not somebody’s bedtime reading/train journey companion/lunchtime lothario? (I say the latter for deep within its pages lurks the rugby world’s most seductive sweet talker you’ll ever meet in your head.)…
I don’t know any of that at all.
And on the other hand, I also don’t know if they’re hating on my every single syllable, turning my pages into paper balls for a little light bin target practice… regardless of the fact that I have three novels published with a small press (a fabulous stepping stone and credential, indeed!) – and regardless of making it to 33k with Book 5, whose saccharine storyline with a difference I’m head over Hummingbird Cake in love with.
I’m 70% Acting As If. I mean, I guess the very motion of writing Book 5 is sending out all the right vibes to all the right corners of the universe.
But I’m 30% fretting/doubting/tossing and turning in my duvet at night:
Will tomorrow be the day I hear something… anything?
How can long can it seriously take to read three chapters?
Why haven’t they snapped me up by now?
And on… and on… AND ON.
Despite the odds feeling more stacked in my favour than ever before, it’s easy to get despondent.
Wherever we are on our writing journey, we can’t help but take a rubberneck look at the ‘glaring reality’ of the stats and wonder why we ever bothered in the first place? And then there’s the endless variety and array of marketing. Does it truly make a difference, wouldn’t the world keep spinning anyway if we called this whole thing a day, got a ‘proper job’ and became a ‘normal member of society with a bank account that had something a little more fruitful to show for it every month’?
Yep. At this wobbly time in publishing’s illustrious history, it has never been more tempting to tear our manuscripts to pieces and toss them over our shoulders like confetti.
It was fun while it lasted. At least we gave the dream a go. Off we trot to find a regular 9-5 job now like the rest of the sensible population so we can pay off our mortgage.
Don’t you dare…
Your books are your ASSETS.
And believe it or not, with every word, sentence, paragraph and chapter you write, you are damn well banking them – novels, non-fiction and articles.
Speaking of fruit, maybe our stories won’t be ripe just now, and maybe we won’t cash in on them for the next few years either, but, nothing that we commit to paper is EVER wasted. Our books are art: un-quantifiable and priceless.
And that’s before we even contemplate the unseen changes they are making in our readers’ lives!
This is a short blog, but it’s no less an important one.
Carve out your writing time and keep adding the unique insights of your characters, plots and settings. More often than not, this will mean ignoring the peanut gallery in your head (as well as the flesh and blood hecklers who nay-say in every nook and critique in every cranny), and trusting that better and wiser part of you (the heart), for as Vinith Kumar says:
“Your heart knows things that your mind can’t explain.”
There’s a reason the idea has come to you in the first place. Be you Walt Disney (did you know Mickey was 90 yesterday?), the designer of the Burj Khalifa, Monet, Lady Gaga or a budding author.
Use it or lose it. Love it, create it. Then onto the next, and the next, and the next.
One day you’ll look back at this journey and savour these simple steps which led to the monolith milestones…