So I realised something when I woke up this morning (other than the fact that I'm tired from being up late with a sick child) it's my publishing anniversary! How am I celebrating? I'm home with my son who has some sort of yucky tummy bug. Poor thing isn't looking too well, but a damn sight better than he did when I collected him early from school yesterday, so that's a positive. Another positive is that it's a cold and miserable day so being forced to stay indoors and out of that isn't such a bad thing for either of us.
Back to why I started this post though ... three years ago today, I published my debut novel! Finding My Way was my very first attempt at writing and it turned into over 500 pages of a story I still love. While it's not my best work it's still all me and something to be proud of. Emma and Seth were meant to be something sweet but this Nick guy, who came from out of nowhere, took over their story, wanting one of his own. To this day, he is still one of my favourite book characters (and not just out of the ones I've written but the ones I've read too, I'm not ashamed to admit). Nick will always have a special place in my heart. He was the first character who took over my brain and demanded his story be told and I cannot thank him enough. Nick ignited a passion in me that I had no idea I even had. I wish he was real; that sexy, Greek God, man-whore with his cheeky sense of humour, sweet dimples and his big, big heart, I really wish he was!
I've had a love of reading my whole life, starting with Dr Seuss, Babysitters Club, Dolly Fiction (only Aussies will probably get that reference) Virginia / V.C. Andrews and Danielle Steel. When I was a pre-teen I would lock myself in my bedroom of a weekend and devour a whole novel. That was my norm. I never dreamed I'd become a published author though. I never dreamed that in three short years I would go from one published title to ten either!
Not everything has been rosy though, being an author has been the bumpiest, most emotional roller coaster I've ever ridden! There have been plenty of highs and almost as many lows. Things never go according to plan. What you think is a fantastic, possible best selling title, may fizzle with limited sales and at the other end of the spectrum readers can surprise you and love a story you didn't think would sell that well. It's such a fickle and unpredictable business and I've never been so uncertain about anything as I have being a writer.
I'm a planner. I like to be organised but when it comes to writing, that all flies out the window! I don't have control over when my brain will do what its told and make my fingers type out the words to the story I want it to. When it comes to writing I'm spontaneous, I'm a pantser! I don't follow a guide and the stories often go off in an entirely different direction than I first imagine. I also don't have any control over how my sales go, when my next paycheck will be, nasty pirating or readers' reactions to my work. My OCD tendencies struggle to cope with all that!
I should have published three more titles by now, at least that's what I'd planned on, but when you're not feeling that the story you've partially written is working anymore, or other characters with new stories are demanding they be heard instead, you can lose all track of yourself. Instead of having those three books out there already, I have five (yes five!) partially-written ones! I plan to write nearly every day but have gone months without a single word added to any WIP.
Life can hijack your brain and so can self-doubt. Feeling you're not good enough is a normal thing for most writers, I'm sure. Having a support network of readers, other authors, family and friends is super important to staying afloat because writing is an extremely lonely business. No one else is in your head, seeing the story you envision, no one can do exactly what you do (good or bad) and that's what makes it so unique. And hard.
I've learnt a lot these past three years and the most important lesson I've learned is to stay true to myself. Success isn't everything when it comes to writing. Sure money is nice but sanity is more important. Busting my gut to get out that next book at the expense of my mental health and stability, and at the expense of my integrity and pride in my work is not acceptable. Writing for others is not why I began but it is something I've struggled with.
GIRL, write YOUR book dammit. Who cares what people think? If writers in the past cared what other people thought we'd still be
glossing over 'inappropriate' kissing scenes. Break the fucking rules. Push yourself to the edge. Show the world what YOU can do. This is YOUR book. YOUR blood and guts. AND, don't you EVER, EVER, write one single line for SOMEONE ELSE.” ― Madeline Sheehan
I may not have achieved all my goals, but at least I've written from the heart and stayed true! I've achieved so much more than I'd first dreamt of and I'm super proud of that. I know I've been quiet of late but I still have plenty 'planned' so stay tuned ...