Writing may be joyful, but making a living from your words is a long, hard slog.
I returned to creative writing in 2013, since when I’ve self-published 45 titles as ebooks, written a dozen unpublished short stories and novellas and five crime novels. I’m glad that I didn’t upload my first Cornish Detective novel in 2015, as it would have disappeared like a fart in a tornado! Self-publishing is great, because it allows anyone to become a published author…the trouble is, millions do.
I’ve just endured the malarkey of querying literary agents and will be moving on to promoting myself by social media posting and blogging. This feels like dodging between the wrong ends of telescopes, to peer up the lenses to see if, far, far away someone is looking down the other end examining me… maybe showing an interest in my writing.
No one said it would be easy. That I’m a stubborn oaf might finally be playing in my favour, after 60 years of banging my head against a brick wall! My métier is being rejected by literary agents without being disheartened. My hide is as thick as a rhinoceros.
It’s good to have armour and a positive attitude, for looking at the careers of famous authors shows what a struggle they endured. Steven Pressfield is the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance and historical novels. His The War of Art and other books on writing are inspirational, especially when your creative spirit is flagging.
Steven Pressfield spent 27 years writing before achieving success, working minimum wage jobs, wandering aimlessly from state to state, couch surfing and sleeping in his car.
Author, literary agent and writing guru Noah Lukeman warns that it may take ten years before a writer gets anywhere. Lots of famous authors persevered for years until their first book was published.
Whenever I feel weary, I remember this advice from Danish journalist Jacob Riis:
Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.
This week, a cartoon popped up in my Quora feed, that reminded me of why I’m glad to be a writer, as it helps me to live in the moment.
As Franz Kafka said: “So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time beginning.“
I know there are miles to go before I sleep with the contented thought that I’m successful as an author, but the long and winding road still beckons me.
How about you?
Where are you headed? Towards a traditional publishing contract or self-publishing?
How long have you been on the writing road?
What success have you had, so far?
“So does stepping off a cliff: make sure you’re facing in the right direction before beginning” – Paul Whybrow