Archive for the ‘happy’ Tag

Faith

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

I’ve talked a lot on this blog recently about negative feelings writers endure. Fear. Jealousy. Mood swings. It’s time to talk about something more positive. Today I want to talk about faith. Faith in yourself. Self-belief in your work as a writer.

It’s quite a difficult one, this, because there’s a fine balance between self-deprecation and arrogance. I’ve encountered both over the years. The first is that very promising and inherently talented writer who suffers from such low self-esteem that they believe everything they write is rubbish. They might have a literary masterpiece tucked away in their desk drawer, but no one will ever know because they never let anyone read any of their work, for fear of rejection.

Then there is the type of person who believes themselves to have talent that surpasses everyone else out there. They are the best writer that ever lived – if only someone would recognise their genius. Such people tend to be deluded as well as arrogant, as generally their writing is average at best, but they won’t hear any kind of criticism and often write angry letters to the agents and editors who have the audacity to reject them.

These are two extreme examples, of course. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. Maybe not literary geniuses, but not bad writers at all, and we lurch between feeling pretty good about what we’ve written and believing it to be a big steaming pile of poo.

But this is where faith comes in. Believe in yourself. Believe in your writing. Maybe you’re a beginner writer and you feel you’ve got a lot to learn. That is probably true. But keep reading, and keep writing. Talk to other writers. Go to conventions and conferences. Let more experienced writers crit your work, and take on board what they tell you. Your writing will improve all the time. And one day you will get published. Have faith.

Maybe you’re already a published author but you have lost your way in your latest work. Maybe you think you’ve lost the muse, and you worry that you’ll never write anything of publishable quality again. Have faith. Somebody thought your writing good enough to publish. Why would that go away? Nobody becomes a great writer overnight, but nobody becomes a rubbish one, either.

Keep the faith, my writer friends. And believe in yourself.

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SOUL SCREAMS Comes To Life!

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

When my first novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN was published, the whole process was one thrill after another. The first time I saw the cover. The first (and second, and third) occasion I had a reason to say “I have to email my editor”. Every round of edits was exciting.

And then the complete published novel arrived, in the form of a zip folder containing all the available e-book formats it was available in. That was an incredibly exciting moment – knowing that my novel was Published. I got so excited I tried to open all the files at once and crashed the machine. There was no hard copy, it was e-book only, but it was thrilling nonetheless.

SOUL SCREAMS is the first of my books that is being made available as a print version, and this means there’s been a new round of ‘first time thrills’. The first time I saw a JPG of the whole cover, front and back, was an exciting moment. It was also the first time I’ve had ‘celebrity endorsements’ on a cover, too – very exciting.

And then I was told the proofs had been ordered. Just the thought that there was a paper book out there, with my name on the cover – for some inexplicable reason that got me rather excited.

Then my editor at Stumar Press informed me that my uncorrected proof was on its way to me. He took pictures of the book before he put it in the post and emailed them to me. Monday afternoon, he told me, it had gone in the post. So I awaited its arrival with baited breath. I got home from work yesterday – Tuesday – a little hopeful but not really expecting anything. The Post Office is not usually that reliable. I figured it was going to take a couple of days to arrive.

But then, as I stood on my doorstep fumbling for my keys, through the frosted glass of my front door I could see, sitting on the door mat inside, a white jiffy bag. Exactly book-sized. I knew then that it had arrived. I was so excited I had trouble putting my keys in my own front door.

I dragged out that moment for a while. Savouring the envelope, before ripping it open and holding in my hands, for the first time, a paperback book with my name on the cover. And then I felt the urge to take a photo, and post said photo all over the Internet broadcasting the fact that my book has been brought to life (attached herewith).

It’s these thrills that make all the heartache involved in being a writer worthwhile. But I’m wondering if I’m marking myself a rank amateur by getting excited at every step. Does one become accustomed to success? When you’ve got a dozen published novels under your belt, does laying eyes on the first one off the printing press no longer give you a thrill? I’d like to think that it’s always exciting, no matter how many books you get published, but maybe I’m being idealistic.

I still hold onto the dream that one day I’ll be in a position to know the answer to this. When I am, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Ups & Downs

(Cross-posted on the WriteClub blog)

The statistics say that one in four people has some kind of mental illness. I have a feeling that if you just include writers in the equation, the figure would be a lot higher than that.

It’s not too surprising, really, if you think about it. What other profession has your emotions riding high and low more often than a roller coaster? Actors, artists and musicians ride the same roller coaster, but it’s unique to the more creative vocations.

When a WIP is going well, I am jubilant. This is the best thing I’ve ever written. I finish it off, send it out for critique, and it gets soundly ripped to shreds. Then all of a sudden it becomes a piece of crap, and how could I ever have thought what I was writing was any good? If it’s had a particularly harsh flaying, I might go crawling into a corner thinking I’m a completely rubbish writer and I should stop pretending I’m a writer and focus on the day job instead.

However, maybe I get through all that, and eventually the book gets accepted somewhere. Celebrations ensue. But then after it gets published, the royalty statements arrive and it’s not selling. Or there aren’t any reviews. Since a lot of online reviewers will only publish favourable reviews, not getting reviews is amost as bad as getting an unfavourable review – since I then start to assume no reviews means everyone hates the book. And I’m depressed again.

Then suddenly something appears online, out of the blue, from someone saying how much they enjoyed reading my work, and I’m riding high once more.

Sometimes I feel I’m on the brink of something really exciting. Life-changing exciting. Other times I feel as a writer I’m making barely a ripple in an enormous pond, and really no one will notice or care if I remove myself completely.

Even the most well-balanced person can’t help but be affected by all these constant ups and downs. No wonder so many writers feel like they’re going a bit mad.

But. Here’s the thing. We’re all on the same roller coaster. Every single writer I know, without exception, from the beginner writer to the one with several best-selling novels under their belt, goes through the same ups and downs.

All you can do when the ride gets rough is hold on tight and wait for the calmer bit to come along. Because it invariably will, and when it does, you are reminded why it’s all worth it.

Happy December

Well, it’s December. Which means I can no longer put off attempting to get into a festive frame of mind. It’s time to buy Xmas presents, do my Xmas card list, and venture into the attic to retrieve the tree and decorations.

Two years ago I did a blog post on why I don’t like the festive season. This Scrooge-like view is shared by many of my friends, but I have to say it seems to completely baffle my family. “You used to love Christmas”, my sister said to me recently. Yes, I did, when I was a kid and it was all about getting presents.

However, in an attempt to redress the balance – and to a certain degree bow to the inevitable and try to let in some festive cheer – I have decided this year to do a post on what I do like about the festive season.

Starbucks Gingerbread Latte:
I don’t drink coffee. The only coffee I like is Starbucks soya lattes – and most coffee drinkers say that Starbucks coffee doesn’t actually taste like coffee, which is probably why I like it. But I do love gingerbread, and Starbucks gingerbread lattes are one of the best things about this time of year.  Along with my customary stem ginger muffin, the gingerbread lattes have become part of the breakfast treat that accompanies my early-morning writing sessions.

Marzipan:
I love marzipan. When I was a kid I waited anxiously for my mother to decorate the Christmas cake. My sister and I would both get a lump of marzipan each to eat on its own. I would roll mine out like Play Dough and nibble it, in an attempt to make it last as long as possible.

When the Christmas cake has been cut and handed around, I’ll still go for one of the corner pieces that has more icing sugar and marzipan than cake. Because in fact I prefer the marzipan to the cake.

Ten Days Off Work:
Because I work for an organisation that closes down for the season, we knock off at noon on the last working day before 25 December, with a couple of glasses of champagne, and that’s it for us until the first working day of January. This generally amounts to ten (sometimes eleven) days of not having to crawl out of bed at 6am and trek through the cold and the dark to get to work. Ah, bliss.

The Wizard of Oz:
When I was a kid, cable TV had not been invented. Never mind DVDs, we didn’t even have video players in those days. Throughout most of the 1970s, “The Wizard of Oz” was on TV on Christmas Day. It was never on any other time of year, and there was no other way of watching it back then.

Hubby also fondly remembers looking forward to watching “The Wizard of Oz” at Christmas as a child.  So much so that we now have it on Blue Ray DVD, and we make a point of sitting down to watch it together, at some point over the holidays.

Presents:
Yes, I still like presents. I think everyone likes getting presents, even though we’re not supposed to admit it.

As a kid, I hated getting clothes – I thought they were boring presents. I preferred getting toys. Not much has changed, actually. I still like ‘toys’ – preferably those with a Star Wars or Buffy theme – and get more excited about these kinds of gifts than I do about scarves or make-up kits or any of the other things that girls are supposed like.

Having a valid excuse to eat and drink too much:
Whatever one’s religious beliefs, this time of year is a time for feasting. That means being able to forget the diet, and gorge on chocolate and all things fattening. Especially mince pies.  I love mince pies.

It’s also an excuse to drink lots of alcohol with all your friends, and nobody frowns on you if you start the year with a killer hangover, because that means you had a good time on New Years’ Eve.

It hasn’t escaped my notice that most of the above points involve food. It’s time to eat, drink and be merry. I shall do my best to be cheerful as 25 December rapidly approaches.  I think I’ll have another mince pie…

Perspective

SUFFER THE CHILDREN is available on the Kindle on Amazon’s site in both the UK and the US. As such, it has a ‘Kindle listing’ rating its popularity.

It’s currently listed number 15,244 on the UK site. This seemed like a rather depressing number to me, and I was grumbling about it to a work colleague recently. “At least it’s got a rating,” she said. “You’ve had a book published and it’s listed on Amazon – not everyone can say that.”

She’s right, of course. I have a tendency to be a ‘glass half-empty’ sort of person sometimes. So thank you, Anna, for pointing out my skewed perspective. My book is published. It has an Amazon listing. This is no reason to complain – this should be a “yay!” sort of moment.

And it reminds me that I’m a published author. That awesome fact has not yet worn thin, and it deserves more than a “yay”. Perspective restored. Off I go for a little happy dance….

First Royalty Statement

This is another one of those ‘let’s bask in the moment’ moments.

I have received my first royalty statement from Lyrical Press, which in my mind is another ‘dance around the room’ kind of occasion.

Since SUFFER THE CHILDREN was released, two and a half weeks ago, I have sold 24 copies. OK, this is hardly in the league of J K Rowling. And the prospect of giving up the day job and living off my earnings is so far away it’s not even a blip on the horizon. But none of this really matters. What matters is, a book I have written has been published, and people have been parting with their hard-earned cash to buy it. More people than just my mum and dad. I am a bona fide, income-earning writer.

It’s just one more small step on the ladder of my writing career, and one more reason to call myself a ‘proper’ writer.

And another reason to open up a nice bottle of wine, I feel. Not that I need much of a reason to do that…

Cheers!

First Review of SUFFER THE CHILDREN

SUFFER THE CHILDREN has been reviewed on the Bookwenches site. They’ve given it a rating of 4.5, which is somewhere between ‘good’ and ‘excellent’ and really not too shabby at all!

I am very chuffed!

Springtime

I don’t like the cold, as I’ve mentioned before. I’ve been bundled up in thermal vests, sweaters and socks for months now.

Last week, I reported on signs of Spring being visible, in spite of it still being quite cold. This week, it’s arrived without notice. Last week I was still wearing my scarf and winter coat. For the last couple of days I’ve been wearing my rain coat, but I had the afternoon off today and as I arrived back home I was surprised to discover I was actually feeing quite hot.

It’s 15c in London today, and it seems that the season has changed all of a sudden. This time last week, I think it was about 7c. The winter duvet is still on the bed, and the radiators are all still cranked up to maximum.

This change of weather is refreshing, but it’s taken me by surprise. I’ve just gone through the house opening up windows. It’s the first time they’ve been open since September – some of them were a bit stiff (I’m not one of these people who sleeps with the bedroom window open all year round – I am generally opposed to fresh air if it’s cold air). My ‘slobbing at home’ outfit consists of a t-shirt with my jeans instead of a sweater, for the first time in months.

Winter seemed to go on forever this year, but I think we can finally say we’ve seen the end of it. Perhaps it’s safe to put away my sweaters and dig out all the clothes my stylist picked out for me last year, most of which I haven’t worn for months because it’s been too cold.

Springtime in England can be wonderful. I’m so happy it’s finally here.

Signs of Spring

London has seen two weeks of relentless rain, coming right after the coldest winter in 15 years and weeks of snow, sleet and ice.

This week, though, as we move into March, the rain has stopped and the clouds are gone. It’s still cold, but the sky is blue and the sun has come out.

Birds have returned to the trees. Crocuses have begun to bloom, and the first buds of leaves are appearing on the trees. The days are getting longer, too. It’s now daylight when I leave the house for work, after months of travelling in darkness. It’s still daylight when I leave the office at the end of the day.

These are all signs that we are finally moving out of winter into spring, and it feels marvellous. I really hate winter, but the one good thing about it is that when it ends, I love spring all the more.

Chlorine and Chipsticks

When I was a child, living in Lancashire in the 1970s, my dad used to take my sister and me swimming most weekends.

After the end of our swimming session, my sister and I used to get bags of crisps from the vending machine, and we would sit in the viewing gallery eating them, while watching the swimmers in the pool below. I usually went for ‘chipsticks’. I’m not sure if you can still buy those anymore. They were long thin corn-based snacks with a rather overwhelming flavour of salt and vinegar.

I have heard that smell is the most powerful sense for evoking old memories. I think this must be true. Even now, more than thirty years on, whenever I walk into the changing area of the swimming pool and get hit by the smell of chlorine, I immediately think of ‘Chipsticks’, and swimming with my dad.