If a writer falls in the woods does anyone read what they wrote about it? I think people have this idea that if they write, their work will be read, and they will be listened to. However, it’s not so straight forward. I’ve been writing for a long time, so I already knew how difficult it is to be heard. But recently, I’ve come to realise, it’s actually much worse.
Writing something long, something good, it takes a lot out of you. And there is no certainty that anyone will care to read what you’ve written, when you’re done. When you realise that, it’s kind of difficult to find the energy to pick up a pen, and start from the beginning, all over again.
I suppose it doesn’t help that I’m a ‘light hidden under a bushel’ type of girl, and have never been very good at showing off or inviting people to look at my work. Because then that would just be inviting people to criticise me. I also fear being seen to be arrogant. I’ve basically dug a hole for myself, and now I’m standing in it.
Let’s start from the beginning. Last year I wrote something here about how much of my time had been taken up by self-publishing my first poetry collection; ‘Strange Times’, and how much it had held up my other writing. I was going to get back to writing more regularly on my website. But then I had another project: ‘Feel It All’, which started in an organised fashion, and in the end took everything that I had to give.
I had two aims when starting ‘Feel It All’. One was to actually finish writing the trilogy of ghost stories that would make up the bulk of the book, the other was to edit some older stories I would take from the website. I started this task in August last year, and I didn’t really get on my writing schedule as I should have. Cut to October and I found myself staring down the barrel of a Christmas deadline, that I gave myself, and being further behind than I would have liked.
I still had a very bad back at the time, from an injury the year before. Sitting over my desk all day at work, and then coming home to do the same thing again, was agony. I pretty much spent the last few months of last year inside, exhausted, staring into my laptop screen, wondering what I was doing to myself. I got into the habit of playing Imagine Dragons’ ‘Believer’ just to summon up the energy to carry on.
I ultimately reached my deadline, more or less. And then I fell apart for a bit, as far as writing is concerned. The ideas were still coming, and forming stories and poems etc, but I felt exhausted. I had a plan to give myself some time off. But I also gave myself the job of creating kindle versions of my books, and also of updating the website. This, I didn’t get around to.
I made a half-hearted attempt to publicise my book on social media. But I didn’t even get around to writing about it on here. I even came to hate my laptop. But then I’ve mostly always hated writing for long periods on a computer. (Luckily, last autumn, I found the dictation function on MSWord. Quite useful for someone who prefers to hand write everything first.)
But I suppose, the thing that really took the wind out of my sails, is that no one really gave a shit that I’d just made a book. Plenty of people asked me how you go about publishing a book on Amazon, and gave me (not great) advice on advertising it. Quite a few people expected a free copy. But the actual book itself interested no one. I sold a total of ten copies, and that was it.
I’m going to be honest and say that knocked my confidence quite a bit. I know, truly, it’s not the fault of the people I know. Not everyone I know is a reader, or likes ghost stories. And between Covid and Christmas, some people just didn’t have time to think about it. Even the cost of a book can be an issue. I suppose I expect people to be like me. I would have bought my book, even if it was complete trash, because that’s just what you do, if you can.
I spent most of January trying to remind myself of John Green’s excellent advice that (to paraphrase) you should make gifts for people, and if people don’t notice those gifts it will be hard for you, but at the end of the day your duty is not the people but to the gift itself. It’s great advice. I have it on a poster over my bed. Still sucks though, to work so hard, and it to not get noticed. Which is why I’m going to try and do better.
I have to do better if I’m going to actually find an audience who will like my writing. I’ve never shown off my writing before as I don’t like to bore people or be seen as a show off. But, ultimately, I do need an audience. I like to scare people or make them feel comforted, or intrigued. Telling stories is so much fun, but it is especially so when you have an audience.
So, I’m soldiering on. I’ve just started writing my first novella, which I will attempt to get properly published. At some point I’ll be working on a collection of short love stories and poems. (Which is a collection I actually started years ago, so it’s not in bad shape.) I’ve also started paying more attention to journals and magazines etc., and am trying, once again, to get published.
It’s not all doom and gloom. As long as I keep thinking up stories, and enjoy writing them, I’ll carry on. It’s all so much fun, and it will remain fun even if no one is reading. I have it better than some people in a lot of ways. Because at least I know what I want to do, I have a purpose, and I’m incredibly stubborn about pursuing it, regardless of the back ache it gives me.
Thank you for reading this ramble. Or maybe just skimming it. You skimmed it, didn’t you? Well, thank you anyway. If you have made it this far I’m going to take a punt that you might have an interest in buying one of my books. If you are, please follow the links below, if not, thanks for hanging around, your interest is appreciated!
Strange Times: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B099C2MYP9/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1JGC5HOO8B3F2
Feel It All & Other Ghost Stories: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09NH3WM81/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_EAKKA9YB0HRM4W794PX4