Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A Late Night Rant (because it's my blog and I can do that)

If you're reading this post 16th May it means I've decided to leave it and not delete in flurry of morning-after horror. 

Before I begin this rant, please note, I am not drunk. The new medication I am taking for my Hypersomnia means I can not drink. This evening I went to a lovely engagement do and consumed one mini cupcake and two rosewater-flavoured lemonades. So I am ranting with a sober heart. 

I just need to vent, because being an aspiring author is really tough and right now I have no idea what I'm doing and don't have many people to talk to about it. I have no idea what the future holds for me. I have a Plan B, and a Plan C, but in a double-dip recession they're not too easy to make happen should Plan A fail. I have this horrible vision of entering my thirties and still living with my parents, crooked of back from hours spent looming over a laptop and shoving random bits of paper at publishers yelling 'Print Me! Print Me!' in the manner of a wolf who howls at the moon. 

And tonight, at this lovely engagement do in Hampstead I did some mingling, which I actually quite enjoy because I like people and I like to chat. And I came across someone who, whether meaning to or not, made me feel about half the height I actually am (I'm nearly 6ft). 

"So what do you do?" she of no name asks.

"Well I work part time, but right now I'm trying to get my novel off the ground." I reply. 

"Oh, have you actually written one then?"

"Yes, it's sitting with agents at the moment. But it's all very tentative... you know..."

"And you work part time?"

"Yes, so that I can focus on my writing."

"Gosh, that's brave" FULL PATRONISING INTONATION. "And I suppose you're scouring over that big red Writers and Artists Yearbook every night?"

"No... I don't have one of those."

"I used to be a journalist. I found that very helpful. You should look at it."

"I think I'm doing ok at the moment, I know a few people who know a few people, and the internet is pretty handy."

"Have you had anything published before?"


"Not even a short story?"


"You should try and do that. Agents like that."

"I have done a Masters in Creative Writing..."

"But you haven't had anything published from it? Not even a short story?"

"I don't think I'm much of a short story writer. I really like writing bigger things."

"Well good luck with that." Side glance around the room. "So what do you do to earn money?"

"I work in a bookshop in London."

"Well I suppose that's linked to the writing thing. You could probably make some good contacts from that."

"Yes... I know..."

I'm going to leave it there because the conversation tapered after that point anyway and I can't remember how it ended. I just felt so small, and so low and so sad because whether intentionally or not, this one person really made me feel like an idiot, even though I'm pretty sure I'm not one. 

But if I'm going to take one thing from this little, bitter tidbit, it's that it's given me some damned fire in my belly. Because if the zombie apocalypse arrives tomorrow, I know that I spent my final days dedicated to what I love doing. And I may fail, I know this, but I don't want to be one of those people who never tried. I've given up a lot to do what I have dreamed of doing since I was a little girl who folded over pieces of dot-matrix paper and bound them with cellotape to make her own library, and I'm not some naive little creature wide-eyed with optimism. I know what I'm doing. I love what I'm doing, and I may never ever make any money from it but right now I don't care. 

Bring on the rejection slips. I'm ready for you. 




  1. Just keep going - and stuff cotton wool in your ears.

  2. Agents like seeing published short stories do they? I always thought agents were more interested in looking at your actual novel that they would be selling if they took you on. There's too much unsought advice out there. You know what you're doing. Keep doing it.

  3. I hope you don't delete it in the morning! Everyone who has ever been published has been right where you are now. And PEOPLE ARE WEIRD about writers. If you tell someone at a party you're a nurse or in sales, they don't ask why, or give you advice on how to be a nurse or how to sell things.

    You're doing what you love, and it takes sacrifices and patience. Hang in there. :)

  4. You have more contacts than most people have are YOUNG and have no non-furry know your field, you know what sells, you are dedicated to your goal. That sad Hampstead ex-journalist was probably jealous. Stick at it,you have time and talent on your side.

  5. It sounds to me like you're doing all the right things. Plus you have passion and determination - you will succeed! I agree with Keren, the ex-journalist sounds a bit bitter.

  6. I wonder if we might be related? I just ask because that sounds awfully like a conversation I've had at every family wedding, Christening and funeral since I was about twenty. Of course, the second I got published it changed because everyone thought I was rich like J K Rowling and they all wanted to make sure I knew how much they admired me (and by the way had I made a will?).

    Basically, non-writers are a bit cray-cray about writers. People on the periphery of publishing, like people who self-published their volume of poetry based on walks around the local countryside, or who 'used to be journalists' are the worst, because they have just enough knowledge to allow them to make all kinds of incorrect assumptions.

    Keep plugging away. If I can get there, trust me, YOU definitely can.

  7. Ah - people are weird when they find out they are talking to a) an existing writer b) an aspiring writer. And weirdly, they then immediately start giving advice or tell you their ideas for a story.

    I think you're being incredibly brave and I admire you for that. You are following your dream - sorry if I sound Disney - but you're bloody allowed to do that. I think more people are realising that they are allowed to while away time dreaming about "what can be" and sometimes, it translates into a bit of bitterness when they come up against someone who is going against the stream and living the dream, although that dream may not yet be fully realised. Don't delete the blogpost - you needed to be a bit ranty and it comes out well and oddly, probably ALL of the publishing industry people who read the blogpost will actually understand.

  8. I bloody love all of you! Hugs all round!!!

  9. I agree - keep going. Don't give up. I know exactly where you are coming from here. I have had conversations with people before and when I tell people what I like doing and what I want to achieve, I get funny looks or the occasional "Mmmm ok", what have you written". Like they dont believe you. I gave up once before, but never again.

  10. It's a funny thing. Being an aspiring writer is a lot like being pregnant. Everyone just feels like they know more than you do. If I took all that advice taxi drivers gave me about birth positions (yes, birth positions), I don't know if I would have had as many children as I did. Come to think of it, writing a novel is a lot like giving birth. It hurts. But you must focus on the baby you will soon have in your arms. That's where the joy is. Stoke that fire, babe, it's gonna happen.

  11. I feel your pain. I have stopped telling people that I no longer teach to concentrate on my writing. I couldn't cope with all the raised eye brows I was getting. Don't take any of it to heart. YOU CAN DO IT!

  12. As the others have said, just keep going. If need be, don't even do it to get published but do it because writing is what you have to do, because it's what feeds the passion and the fire in your belly; you write because you must. All us unpublished writers sit in the same place these days, some have been writing for a short while, some, like me, for years and years - so much so that I prefer to no longer discuss it with family and friends because they look at me like I'm entirely pathetic. I don't expect them or any non-writers to understand. But like I said, we write because we must and so we keep on going, and every time we're knocked back we actually get a little stronger and that much more determined. We're a bit mad that way... ;-) But... here's the key thing, we believe in the stories and the words we write and we keep going.

  13. None of us know what the future holds but when you have ARCs of your first book (and I do mean when) I'm totally going I be badgering for one .

  14. hang in there! The longer I've been doing this the more convinced it is the people with sheer bloody minded stubborness that get there in the end, and i'm sure you will!

  15. THANK YOU so much for putting into words what so many of us are obviously feeling (but can't express to friends and family who will never understand in a million years). A few months ago I sent my first novel to 4 agents. All of them asked for a full MS. Three sent back detailed advice for editing and asked me to resubmit when revised. Which I'm in the process of doing. And the nearest to a positive compliment from my family? "So none of them liked it? Oh well, at least you tried." Gaaaaaaaaaaah. Keep writing, and keep ranting :)