I never expected that
When I first saw myself as a writer, that sticky title came with a suitcase full of expectations. I saw it as a straightforward equation: good writing + passion + enough submissions = agent + publisher + literary success. I was like a deluded meerkat, staring back at itself in a mirror, nonchalantly whispering, “Simples!” I knew that getting a book published must be a relatively smooth process because there were masses of books out there and I’d never encountered anyone before who’d had a book rejected. (I’d never encountered a published writer either, but such is the power of a selective memory.)
I trawled through the Writers & Artists’ Yearbook, or the Writers’ Handbook, depending on which one I’d decided to purchase that year. I crafted that one novel that I could not imagine abandoning for reasons of taste, patience or commerical viability.
I renamed my files from stories to fiction, and from jokes to comedy. I carried a notebook around like a talisman and I haunted bookshops where I would gaze longingly at the shelves, like a lovesick teenager.
Time rolled on. Each time the novel was rejected, I wrote a short story. Gradually, those stories found their way into magazines and anthologies.
The novel still returns, periodically, like a homing pigeon (but without any useful messages). It has its own story to tell – about the editor who died, the one who went bankrupt, and the one who took 15 months to get round to saying ‘no thanks’.
But…having claimed the sticky label of writer, I became drawn into the world of writing. I saw the naivety of my earlier equation and replaced it with something that had evolved from person experience: good writing + editing + editing + editing + a synopsis + that synopsis edited + a targeted agent or publisher = the possibility of a contract at some point.
And yet, for all my frustrations – that rise and fall like the tide, depending upon what successes, failures or neglect my writing has received – I’m the richer for the journey.
I attended a novel writing summer school, which eventually produced a Brit thriller and its sequel. And a comedy writing week taught me as much about other writers as it did about myself. I self-published a set of comedy sketches, many having been performed before at comedy revue shows.
Skip on a couple of years and I’ve joined a US based writing community and independent publisher, working on their debut anthology and helping new writers develop. The year after that, a contract arrived, from a US based ebook publisher.
I’m still searching for that elusive ‘traditional’ publishing deal, but I now have four novels to go fishing with. Plus, I’m not entirely convinced that it’ll be the right path for me. Most importantly of all, I now know a whole lot more about what it means to be a writer!
Here are some links for my writing – don’t be shy now!
The Silent Hills – Best Mainstream Story in the 2011 Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll. http://tinyurl.com/thesilenthills
The Showreel Sketchbook – a collection of comedy sketch scripts for grown-ups. http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/75117
Beyond the Horizon – an anthology containing my short story Rogue. http://www.bamboccionibooks.com/titles.html
Kissing Frankenstein – an anthology containing three of my flash fiction stories. http://tinyurl.com/KF-FFSW
Tags: 15 months, Beyond the Horizon, frustrations, good writing, homing pigeon, Kissing Frankenstein, literary success, meerkat, naivety, novel, patience, person experience, rise and fall, selective memory, shelves, short story, sticky label, successes failures, suitcase, talisman, The Showreel Sketchbook, The Silent Hills, viability, yearbook