I haven’t posted anything on here since my story, The Lioness, got shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Why? Well, to be honest, I quite like having that story at the top of my page for people to read. After all, it’s proof that I am indeed doing what it says on the tin. This freelance writer is – surprise, surprise – actually writing.
But as I’m sure you know, that works for about five seconds in the real world. Ten, if you’re lucky.
Once the excitement and the novelty wear off (see time frame above), you need to get back to the grind. Success (the measure of which is relative to each of us) might lend you wings for a while, but these wings won’t carry you forever. You need to keep on working, often with little to show for it. You need to keep pushing yourself if you want to see any more positive results.
This is nothing new, but sometimes it bears repeating.
Do the thing you love. Then do it again. And again. When you don’t love it, take a break. Do something else. If you really love the first thing, the overwhelming desire to get back to it will become impossible to ignore. You will look at it with fresh eyes, then carry on working. It will take days, months, even years. When you reach a milestone, you’ll look up and realise that actually, you’re still only at Base Camp. The top of Everest is miles away (and already crowded with tourists). If you want to get there, you’re going to have to make your own way to the top, step by step.
Don’t let other people discourage you. This is YOUR journey. Your steps. What they choose to do with their lives is their business. Same with yours. Guard your passions, because at the end of the day, you’re not living your life for those other people.
They won’t be plagued with your regrets on their deathbed, so don’t let their doubts affect you now. Chances are, they’re just jealous because they haven’t found their own project to pursue. They’ve never tried to climb that mountain. They let others do it for them, then look at the pictures and gush over the view.
Be the person to climb that mountain. Yes, you.
* * *
Why am I writing this now? Well, probably because I’m 2/3 of the way through editing my novel, Mirrormind. It’s not easy. As much as I love it, doubts start to creep in almost every other day. Does the story work? Are my characters tolerable? Will anybody else like it? Will they get what I’m trying to do?
Or am I just a deluded hack with a crap taste in stories?
I don’t know. The journey is long. It’s frustrating. People keep asking when it will be ready. Worst of all, they seem to imagine that as soon as I’m done, I can snap my fingers and they’ll have a beautiful printed copy to sink their readerly teeth into.
Well, no… sorry. It doesn’t work like that. Once I’m done (and when are you ever really done? I’m not even sure it’s possible to finish that journey feeling 100% satisfied with every step taken along the way), I’ll need to find an editor. Beta readers. Then I’ll have to re-tweak. Send out query letters to agents. Wait a long time for answers, which might all turn out to be negative. In the meantime, hopefully start another book, another journey.
So it takes time. But that doesn’t mean you should give up.
Every step counts.
(And in the meantime, if you want to follow me on FB, you can do so here by liking my page. I post regular teasers for my novel, as well as other writing-related news.)