This month our writers are taking stock, pressing on, and accepting the realities of writing. Spoiler alert: it’s all about hard work, and accepting that there are no handy shortcuts to success. Sorry!
Casey King @Letstalkcrime
I attended a few author events recently and noticed that when the floor was opened to the audience a similar theme ran through the questions. People wanted to know that magic formula, that secret, that button to press, the software to use, what does it take to turn out that amazing book that will be snapped up? Here I come with a huge pin to burst that bubble … there ain’t no magic formula. It’s a bit like losing weight, there are no quick fixes only dedication and sticking to what works for you.
Writing software, like an ideal exercise class or DVD, is only as good as the one that makes you want to partake. There are no magic formulas, only grafting, and drafting, writing, rewriting, making what you think is the bees-knees, even better – I ran out of rhyming words, but you get the picture. Overnight successes are rare. Not giving up is the key. Celebrate others’ successes because one day it will be your turn and you’d like for them to raise that glass for you, as you did to them.
Book three in my crime series was giving me a pain in my ass, so I stepped back from it. The reality is life took over and I kind of had no choice. Once September hit, all the routines fell into place and when I sat back at my desk, I decided to write a different book three – a stand-alone. Who knows where this will take me because it started as a joke until a friend said to me: Why not? So, ten pages of notes and six thousand words later, book three is underway. I am grafting and drafting. That’s what it takes.
I sent off another new submission this week. Hooray! One where you send a full manuscript from the outset. I’ve never come across this with literary agents before, but it hopefully cuts their slush pile down, as your work must be finished, which can only be a good thing. I’m still hanging on for answers elsewhere. I would have resigned myself to forgetting about it, or rather thinking that they had, but more apologies for the delay have been forthcoming so hopefully I’ll hear one way or the other very soon. Catching a glimmer of interest has made me realise that all I really want now is to be traditionally published. This is problematic, because my goal, certainly at the beginning of this year was to self-publish the second book in The Hunger Chronicles and while that’s been a slow burn in terms of productivity, I feel now that I need to hold back on it. My heart, while in my book, is not in self-publishing.
Maybe it’s a crisis of confidence, maybe I just don’t want to go it alone again, but I know now what path I want to be on. Immediately of course I feel guilty. I’ve already spent money on the cover design, broken a million promises to myself that I would stay the course, and told readers who were kind enough to ask, that another tale is on the way. Rest assured though; I’m not abandoning them. My hopes have just shifted. I want more for them than I alone can provide.
So, I’m not going to self-publish again. The decision scares me. There is no easy way to get your book out there. Self-publishing is hard. Traditional publishing is hard. Sticking with either path is difficult but trying to do both is just not for me. There’s another fear. Are The Hunger Chronicles my learning books? Destined to come back to me, as I spread my wings with another genre, or will they get the life outside of me that I hope for them? So much – too much – to think about in one breath. So, I’ve written myself a note and pinned it over my desk. JUST WRITE: The Publishing Will Take Care Of Itself.
Last time we met I was sharing my news that Faith O Grady, from the Lisa Richards Agency, had agreed to represent me and look for a home for my memoir. So many people sent congratulations my way and were genuinely happy on my behalf I was stunned, but thank you. I even got a little excited myself. However, once the prosecco disappeared, there was still the matter of finishing my book. I’d a deadline of mid-September to have some more work submitted.
So, I sat at my laptop and typed away, as usual, but something had changed. No one was interrupting. Where were my children who beat a steady path into my room to sit chatting beside me, ignoring my continuing to type, desperate not to lose my train of thought? Where were my friend’s texts to meet for coffee, or phone calls to catch up, during the only two hours I had free to write? Could it be, that after five years, my family and friends were taking my writing seriously? Indeed, they were. Not only is this my memoir, but they are also heavily invested in it. Daily, their enquiries as to how my writing is going are met with delight, if I tell them it went well, and encouragement after a day of difficult writing.
Recently, as I poured over old newspaper reports, relating to a time I’d rather forget, I realised how far I had come. Those reports held no power over me anymore. I wasn’t upset, only grateful, that I’d literally lived to tell the tale. Which reminds me… I have a deadline to tell that tale. So, until next time I hope all you writers keep writing, one word at a time, and hopefully, whether published or not, we will all get to tell our tales.