Writing Is My Passion
Just a couple of weeks before our world turned crazy, I was out to lunch with a non-writer friend of mine. Enjoying the delights of Canterbury, and little did we know that within ten days we would face social distancing and finally 'Lockdown' for the foreseeable future. My friend, lets call her Ella, has always been a supporter of my change in direction mid-life to be a writer, if at times slightly bemused at my new way of life. Nevertheless, she always asks, "How's your writing is going?"
I need to digress here and say that we have similar career backgrounds in health care. Working long hours and trying to meet impossible deadlines. Hoping that no child would suffer, or worse, on 'our watch.' Dealing with impossible people and their demands. Very stressful. So we have a mutual understanding of our 'old' working lives, if you will.
I went on to tell her about the joys of editing, numerous drafts, getting my manuscript (MS) to be the best it can be, but always feeling it's never good enough. The politics of the Publishing world and how different it is to my previous life (steep learning curve and all that). Before, being in a senior management role / Lecturer the expectation was that you had to have articles published in academic journals. Academia, unsurprisingly, is not my forte, or at least, I had to work very hard to develop 'academia speak' ~ the jargon and style necessary to write Reports, Policies and Articles. So different from the creative world I really wanted to develop for myself. Anyways, getting published in a professional journal was relatively easy. You submitted an idea to the editor and always they replied with a yes. You wrote said article and submitted, followed by toing and froing once or twice to 'tweak,' and Hey Presto! Your work is published. That was the norm, about three months from start to finish. Can't say I'm really proud of my work ~ was not the best academically in my view ~ but at least I can say I've been published. Easy Peasy.
The Literary world is so different. The sun and the moon different. Explaining to a non-writer why you accept being rejected, that it's part of the process of earning your writers stripes, is impossible. The elephant in the room is, "If you work is good, why are you not being accepted?" (Heck, that's a whole other story!)
Ella said, "Why do you put yourself through this? You don't need the stress in your life."
Here's the thing, it's not stressful, at least not in the way I used to know stress. I've always written, dabbled, daydreamed, plotted ~ often when I should have been paying attention to more immediate things of concern. That clicking the 'send' button and submitting your MS, your baby, to Agents is a scary process. But it's a good kind of scary. Full of anticipation, excitement, dread and acceptance of what might happen next. All the work beforehand, the planning and plotting (I'm a stickler for detail. Some things never change). The getting to know your characters. Committing the first draft, the outline of your story, to paper makes me tingle! The subsequent drafts and edits to polish the MS is hard work but it makes me feel alive. Getting to know other writers and celebrating their success in getting their book published is joyful. I'm genuinely pleased for them.
Have to admit though the submitting to Agents can at times be soul destroying. I've been close to success so many times: they like my work and my 'voice,' but unable to take me on at that time. I'm nothing if not tenacious, and so brush myself down and start again. Like I'm about to do later this week after putting submissions on hold for a while.
Should I have started this crazy life sooner, when I was younger? Maybe, maybe not! On the other hand I have a lifetime of experiences, observing people, interacting with many others, anecdotes to fall back on. As they say, 'Don't upset me, you might find your way into my novel.' And they have, *she winks.*