So it’s been a funny old year, hasn’t it? You’d’ve thought that the pandemic would make writing easier. All that time cooped up inside. Especially if you read the Daily Mail and believe that teachers have been doing nothing in lockdown – hours and hours of uninterrupted time! Of course, the reality has been very different. Not only have I not had time to do much writing, I’ve also just not been in a mental place to get anything done.
I’ve written two books now. One the start of my Vida and Slater series. One a standalone domestic thriller. And neither of them have been taken up by agents. That’s not unusual. But it is hard. It’s left me trying to work out where to go next, wondering whether I should keep going or whether I need to accept that maybe being a writer isn’t the career for me.
But fundamentally, I want to be a writer. And if I want to be a writer, then the only option open to me is to keep going! We live in a time where traditional publishing isn’t the only potential route to success. In fact, it’s a very small route to success, and very few people are lucky enough to be taken on that journey. Thankfully, there’s a much wider route in the form of self-publishing. And it’s taken me some time, but I’m ready now to take that step. I’m going to self-publish Between the Lines. What’s made the difference?
Knowing I’m good enough
That’s not meant to sound arrogant. More a statement of fact. God, even that sounds arrogant. But if I didn’t think I was good enough to make a success of a writing career, then there’d be little point continuing. Why do I know I’m good enough? I look at the company I keep.
I was lucky enough (talented enough?!) to get a place on the UEA Crime Fiction Masters. My colleagues have achieved great success – the wonderful Nicola Monaghan’s Dead Flowers came first. Then Femi Kayode’s Lightseekers has just been released to great acclaim. And Louise Sharland’s The Lake is coming in March. Add to that Mark Wightman, whose Betancourt series has just been signed up by Hobeck Books. Wow! And these are only my immediate company – the year before me has turned out Harriet Tyce and Trevor Wood, the year after me Antony Dunford and Wendy Turbin. This is illustrious company I’m keeping. And I can hold my own. Part of me is jealous of all my colleagues successes, of course. But the bigger, more sensible part of me know that their success is proof that I can do it too.
Knowing the book is good enough
This one’s harder. Writing is such a subjective art form, and what works for one person, doesn’t work for another. My friends and family have enjoyed the book. But then I’m reminded of shows like The Voice where clearly nobody ever told the potential warbler that they’ve got a voice like a cheese greater. It won the David Higham Scholarship for me. It earned me a distinction. It was shortlisted for the UEA Little, Brown Award (along with Niki and Femi’s books). One thing I’ve learned in the past few years from talking to authors and reading everything about authors is that the feeling of not being good enough never really goes away.
So I have to draw a line in the sand and say that my book is good enough. It’s good enough to entertain people for a few hours. And really, what more do I want?
So watch this space. I’m currently tweaking and re-checking… somewhat like Santa and his proverbial list and hopefully the book will be out by the end of the month!