There are times when it feels quite painful, torturous even, to be a writer. There are times when it is my sole source of joy and release, and then there are the other times. Lately, I have experienced the growing pains of trying to make the transition from hobbyist to a professional writer and it has been a journey that has left me with more questions than answers.
I used to think that to big myself up or shout about how good I am would be vain and conceited, or at best delusional and unaware. Which was hard because I’ve always tried to be self-aware to the point of being excruciatingly self-critical. If I am quick to acknowledge my flaws and faults before anyone else does I can get the jump on the judgmental crowd and protect myself from sniggers and ridicule. Wise huh? Well, no, not really. It’s actually the dumbest lie I ever told myself and it’s not going to get me anywhere. So it’s time to share the highs and lows I have experienced in the process of trying to get published.
So anyway, I wrote a novel. No, scratch that. In the interests of bigging myself up, I wrote the shit out of a novel. I did the very best that I could do at the time I was writing it, and it was good. At times, I think it might even have been great (already I feel weird about stating that), and I have some pretty hard evidence to back my claim. For a start I worked really hard on it. Secondly, I enjoyed reading it myself and I still do. Thirdly, I actually finished it. Finally, I let people read it and to my surprise people enjoyed it.
I should backtrack for a minute here. When I first started writing this book I had two agents who had already shown an interest in the proposition. It’s a sign! It’s a sign! So I thought. This is it. The agents believe in me, so surely I am ‘meant’ to be a writer. So I started and kept on, writing. Then I sent it off to a manuscript assessment service, and they liked it too. Another sign! Then I randomly bumped into one of the agents who had first shown an interest whilst at a train station hundreds of miles away from where I live. That HAS to be a sign, right? Then a series of serendipitous happenings lured me on my way and finally I finished the book. Then I sent it out to a group of beta readers.
To some of those readers, it was the best thing they had ever read. To others, it was worthy of becoming a movie. One felt so inspired by it, she decided to ditch the beach reads and go back to the more stimulating texts she had enjoyed during her University days. For one reader in particular it sparked quite a hostile reaction, the reader was down right unsettled by it and I loved that I had stirred such strong feelings. Even if she didn’t like it she had been affected by it, hoorah!
Sure the book probably needed (and still needs) some editing and a tidy up by a publishing professional but all feedback considered, I was pretty proud of it. So I started doing the rounds and submitting it to agents and that is when things got really interesting…