Before pressing publish on a new blog, I always go through a series of questions:
Q: Am I being honest?
A: I’m write fiction, artistic license is my go to.
Q: Will I be embarrassed about it retrospectively?
A: Occasionally. Often. Probably.
Q: Are those reading it now bored of three years moaning and whining about how hard this life I’ve chosen is?
A: More than likely. In fact, I’d be amazed if you weren’t. Sorry!
Today, I asked myself another question, having written a blog bemoaning the current state of play, i.e. I’m neither a marketeer nor a writer (by my definition) and with that in mind, what is the point of me? (Shush you at the back.) And I realised, I didn’t want to post it. Because I’m tired of the sound of my whining, yet I do want (need) to offload. It’s my blog, I can cry if I want to. And, then I had another thought. Forgive my indulgence, but what if, one day, people – like, not my mother or brilliant friends – real life actual people, what if they actually wanted to read my words? What if, one day, my dream finally comes true and this journey of torture (okay, okay, I know) might prove useful to them? Or to me, when I sign my third, triple book deal (!), as a reminder of how hard this has been. For my children perhaps, as an insight into their mother: a glimmer of the reason she is/was who she is/was…. On second thoughts, maybe not my children. It’s probably best they don’t read it… and if you have, H and M: Mummy’s very sorry. For lots of things. And she loves you. Almost as much as Gin. I’m kidding. Or am I? (I am.)
So that’s why I have decided to post this. Which is a massively edited, version of the original. Because actually, it is fucking hard and I make no apology for feeling like I’m pissing into an abyss with every rejected submission. Of which, I’m thrilled to say I broke the big 30 on today. That’s right folks, over three books and three years, I’ve amassed thirty rejections. Mostly from agents, some from publishers, each and every one a smack in the face. I tell you what is tough: keeping going when they’re like confetti in your inbox. As I set out this week to start writing my fourth novel, I received three rejections. One of which included the words: we hope it’s us and not you. Which sort of suggests they think it is me, not them.
And you know what? If it is? There is very little I can do about it. Because what I also see, as I start my fourth novel: is that my style and voice is quite strong now. And my approach is consistent. I write what I write and whilst I’m polishing, learning and growing with each sentence, I’m also solidifying my style. Compounding it. Taking ownership. Which may mean, I will amass many, many more rejections. Perhaps my style isn’t good enough, isn’t strong enough, isn’t commercial enough, isn’t now enough. But it is what it is, and to write books I believe in – like my last one – I have to stay true to that.
So, despite typing through treacle infused anxiety and fear, I’ve knocked out a fairly unimpressive 3,697 words this week. And MAN, they’ve been tough. Because the new book I’m writing is …. Well, honestly – I don’t know. I know the characters. I know the premise. I know what I want to come out of the process, but I’ve not quite worked out the detail of the individual stories that will make up the full manuscript. It’s not ideal, it’s slow, it’s slightly scary, but it is something that, I know already, is very me. And it will be something I believe in. And if I’ve not picked up an agent this time next year, maybe I’ll just self-publish it along with the last one. Because I see artists/writers making and presenting their own work all around me. They don’t wait for someone to give them the go ahead, the platform. In some cases, the platform follows it, but not always. And if they’re brave enough, then maybe so should I be. It’s not the route my ego wants, but what if it’s the route I’m destined to take?
Grit, Graft and Paper Diamonds is my fourth novel. It’s about the assumptions we make on other people’s lives. It’s about the truth, the reality of what makes a long and “happy” marriage, and how – in houses all around the world – it’s often the women that hold it all together… even when they’re no longer able. It’s complicated – as usual. And it’s probably going to be quite dark at times – as usual. But it’s what I truly believe. And that is why it will be something that I’m proud of.
Thanks for reading the lows. And thanks for always posting lovely comments in response. Whilst I cringe with both of these things, I also know they’re a necessary part of my process.