I don’t really know how to start. I’ve been on this journey that is ‘trying to become a writer’ since I was 14. I was really bored in a science lesson, so opened my pad and wrote ‘Chapter One’ in my notebook. Lots of people liked the extract I penned in that lesson, so I thought I should finish the chapter really. That then became three chapters, and before I knew it, I was writing a novel.
I’d come home every day from school and spend the first hour or so on the family computer, adding to my work in progress. Incidentally, this practice was what taught me how to touch type; during the winter, it would be getting dark while I was writing, and a combination of being so engrossed in the writing process and laziness, meant that I’d sit there fumbling at the keyboard, unable to see what was what, until I learned where the keys are without a need to look down.
I could what??
When I was sixteen one of the teachers suggested I could eventually try to get my work published. That hadn’t occurred to me before; writing was just a hobby. I enjoyed losing myself in the fantasy world I had created, but undoubtedly seeing people reading and laughing at my work (because it was funny, I should point out) did give me a tremendous amount of pleasure. It seemed like the perfect conclusion. I like to write, so yes, I should try to get published.
Of course, I was a kid back then. I knew nothing of the process. I have no recollection of what I thought actually happened, but I very much doubt I pictured the convoluted, crushing world that I would eventually discover. But once the idea had been planted in my head that I could be published, that was what I wanted from my life. It’s always been the target, the overall trajectory I tried to follow as I went to college and then university.
Taking the plunge
In 2011, when I graduated, I was one of the lucky ones, in that I left university straight into a great job, working for a great company, with nice people. Of course, living in one of the most expensive areas of the country during a recession wasn’t financially viable, and so I had to move back to Cornwall. Instead of seeing this as a setback, I decided to view it as an opportunity.
At the moment, jobs are so heavily contested, that suddenly the prospect of making a living from my writing didn’t seem like such an unrealistic goal. Getting a regular, full time job, that I knew would be secure – that was the pipe dream now. So I started to look around for freelancing work, and have begun to build myself a bit of a reputation amongst businesses in Cornwall for copywriting.
My happy clients not only enforced in me the belief that my writing was actually good, and I used my spare time to prepare the novel Politics in Blood, which has grown from the book I originally started writing in school (although it is so different it is barely recongisable, considering it has had a change of pretty much all the characters, the plots, and almost everything else). Several rejections followed from various agents, unsurprisingly.
Death at Castle Spire
However, last year, something happened that strengthened my belief in myself as a writer and put me on the path towards my ultimate dream. I applied to the publisher PersonalNOVEL, a German company expanding their range of customisable novels into the UK market, to be a novel writer for them. Death at Castle Spire came out in December. I could experience the joy of holding a book that I had actually written, reading my words from a page that wasn’t printed by myself, and look at my name on their website. You can read more about what a Personal Novel is, and Death at Castle Spire itself, here.
When November came around, I once again wanted to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Editing Politics in Blood had taken up so much of my time, I felt that I hadn’t written very much recently, and was eager to get back to producing new work. By the end of the month, I had completed Fallen on Good Times. I spent the next six months furiously expanding and editing it.
In the followers’ list of someone else’s Twitter page, I saw Paddy’s Daddy Publishing. I noticed they were a new independent publisher, and would be looking for submissions soon. I had already decided to try submitting to independent publishers next, as I thought they might be more inclined to take a risk on me. I was going to talk to them a bit, try and build a relationship with them, and then submit when they opened in April.
I didn’t need to, as it turned out. After checking me out as their new follower, they came onto this blog, read some of my writing, and became interested in me as a writer. They tweeted at me, telling me they liked my writing and that I should submit something when they opened for submissions. Having a publisher invite me to submit something, after all the rejections I had received from agents, was an amazing feeling. I have always managed to be in two minds about my writing. I have truly believed that it is good (it’s my one skill; everyone has one), yet at the same time, who was I to judge my own ability? Most writers probably deep down believe that they were good writers, and they’re not always right. Why did I have the right to be so arrogant?
Paddy’s Daddy inviting me to submit was the third piece of key information regarding my writing that has kept me going, no matter how bleak things always looked. The second was of course PersonalNOVEL publishing a book of mine. The first happened when I was about 18, and was on a writing forum. I had posted a short story, and someone who was a creative writing lecturer and author had read it and told me that they had no doubt I would be published one day. I know it’s easy to say things like that to people on the internet and not mean it, but I have always carried that with me.
Fallen on Good Times
Why didn’t I submit Politics in Blood to Paddy’s Daddy? Because I believed that Fallen on Good Times was more ready, and also because I was more involved in that now, having not touched Politics in Blood for several months. The characters in Fallen on Good Times were holding my attention at the present. It might seem odd that I considered a book I started recently to be more ready than one I have been working on since my childhood, but it’s not so strange. Politics in Blood was the novel where I learned how to write. Every revision taught me new skills, every read through detected new problems. Generally, once you have spotted a mistake, you don’t make it again. Fallen on Good Times took a much shorter time to get ready because I’d spent plenty of time making mistakes on Politics in Blood, so my writing is much stronger than it was when I started that novel.
Fallen on Good Times is due to be released in 2014. Until then, I will continue to fine tune it. Having been accepted, it’s obviously already good, but I want to keep tightening it up. Paddy’s Daddy’s first two authors; Suzanne Egerton and Des McAnulty are already receiving 5 star reviews, and I want to make sure that, when Fallen on Good Times is released, it can stand shoulder to shoulder with their novels.
I consider Fallen on Good Times to be my debut novel. Technically Death at Castle Spire should be. I’m very proud of it, and I love working with PersonalNOVEL. It’s such a new and unique concept that a lot of people don’t know what it is, which means I spend a lot of time explaining it to them. Fallen on Good Times is a ‘traditional’ novel; there’s no explanation required, other than what it is, who’s going to publish it, etc. Because PersonalNOVEL is all about crafting a beautiful bespoke novel, unique to you, you can only order Death at Castle Spire through their website. Fallen on Good Times will be in most of the usual places you would find a novel.
There are a lot of exciting things ahead of me as I continue to refine Fallen on Good Times, get it ready to go out into the wide world, and promote it to ensure it gets a good reception. Those of you who have read my About page will know it ends with ‘I hope you will join me on my journey to becoming a published author’. That journey isn’t over yet, although now I can clearly see where the road is headed.
Hopefully you’ll stick around for the rest of it. I’ll release some details about Fallen on Good Times in a future post. For now, you can check out the website of my publisher (what a great thing to be able to say…my publisher), Paddy’s Daddy, and Like them on Facebook.
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