I don't blog, not enough anyway. I throw the occasional update at this backwater corner of the web, watch it stick to the wall, drip down past a few readers and then pool on the ground going moldy while my attention is elsewhere, mostly on my current writing projects.
No, I don't blog, but I'm aiming to change that. I want to use my blog to talk more about my writing. I don't mean promoting work I have coming out (though I'm not saying shameless self-promotion won't happen - it's my website after all) and I don't plan on rehashing too many writing tips you've heard ten times before - remember, show don't tell when you're killing your darlings without adverbs - you can find plenty of that around the interwebs already.
Instead, I want to talk more about what happens around the outside of writing, the business of writing, but not just publishing deals and agents, also the emotional business of writing, a blog that keeps an honest account of my trials, tribulations and lessons learned as I work at securing a book deal, all the while being crushed under alternating piles of self-confidence and self-doubt.
I've been making things up and writing them down as long as I can remember, in fact here's proof:
My Mum found these in storage somewhere in my family home, some of my earliest 'books' and they must be pretty great, I mean just have a look at some of those titles, "The Magician Who Thought He Knew All The Magic" - surely an in-depth portrayal of a man tortured by his own feelings of superiority, "I am Captain Black Skull" - a riveting and multi-layered depiction of how the social environment shapes a simple man into a feared villain, and "The Pirate Dragon" - a Pirate WHO IS ALSO A DRAGON. Looking back at these books is a laugh, but it also reminds me of the time I wrote just for the love of it. I didn't think about being published, I probably didn't even think about these stories being read by anyone else, I just wrote them because stories meant something to me.
Today I have published short stories, have a graphic novel in development, two novels written and a literary agent who works on my behalf. I take writing seriously, sometimes too seriously. I write everyday, and I don't just mean the time I sit in front of the computer, I mean away from the keyboard too. I think about writing every minute of every day, it consumes me. I listen to people and I observe, always on the lookout for new ideas or insights I could use in my work.
Writing while working a full time job is tiring, but even more than that pursuing the dream of becoming a published novelist is emotionally draining. Perhaps it's cheesy but every book you write is a piece of yourself, god dammit it's true, painfully true. That book, in whatever form, is you on paper. It's understandable then how it becomes so easy to fixate on having the excruciating effort of peeling parts of yourself away and slapping them down on the page validated by someone publishing it and readers saying they like it. I'll admit there are times I become so fixated on this goal that I spiral into some dark places. I consider myself quite resilient but there are days when rejections wear a hole in that thick skin. Writing brings me great joy and rough depression, the achievements are invigorating and the disappointments sometimes heart-breaking. When writing begins to feel like work it's easy to lose sight of writing for the love of it. Sometimes I have to step back and look at "The Pirate Dragon" to realign me with why I'm doing this in the first place.
I am lucky enough to have a literary agent and having her take me on as a client is one of my biggest achievements so far. It's great to have someone believe in my work and agree to represent me and push my work out into the world. As my agent has sent my work to publishers I've had more or less consistently good feedback and I'm hoping soon we'll secure a home for one of my novels. We haven't yet which is why that burning desire to achieve that lifelong goal is still there, sometimes burning a little too much.
It's some of these parts of writing I want to talk about in this blog as it's an area that doesn't seem to be discussed as frequently as the nuts and bolts of writing. The emotional investment in writing, the ups and downs that occur during the process, from ideas, to plans, to first drafts, to agents. I'll talk about my work, how I handle different aspects of the process and the act of trying to sell it. Hopefully as I move forward in the publishing gauntlet others can gain some insight from my experiences.
Writing is hard, brain-splitting and ball-bustingly hard. Sitting down and writing a book is difficult, it's an art, it takes talent and skill but it's just one part of the equation. Storytelling is hard, storySELLING is harder.
I'd love to hear from some other writers about these things. How does the business of writing make you feel? Do you sometimes get that crippling self-doubt? What is your "Pirate Dragon" that helps bring the joy back?