Sunday, 7 September 2008

Publication and Perseverance

Recently, on the Macmillan New Writers’ collective blog, David Isaak asked ‘How does it feel’? How does it feel, x amount of time on from your baby’s release into the world, to be a published writer?

My response at the time was:

‘I think being published has changed the way other people see what I do rather more than the way I see it. I've always taken my writing very seriously but other people would look at my days spent writing while I worked part time at the money-generating job and think 'Isn't this a bit sad? Doesn't she realise that publication is monumentally unlikely?' Now they just ask, meekly, where they can get a copy of my book and when the next one's coming out. Prior to MNW saying they'd like to publish Testament, I always said I wouldn't stop trying to be published until I stopped developing as a writer. That hasn't changed either!’

But, in the weeks since I posted that reply, I’ve realised that there is something more fundamental that being published has done for my writing – it’s given me more confidence in what I do, in my own abilities and, possibly, my own potential.

Had I not had Testament published, I wonder whether I would have persevered with the work in progress. It’s not proving an easy book to write and, without the confidence of having been accepted into the MNW fold, without Testament going into paperback, I wonder whether I would have had the confidence to weather the difficulties which writing the current novel has thrown up and simply persevere.

Interestingly, it’s not just having had Testament published which has made the difference but one of the consequences of that publication – being a blogger and a reader of blogs. Without the posts of other writers which make it clear that not only is writing a first draft monumentally hard, it is also likely to yield only a ‘shitty first draft’ which must then be crafted via second and third drafts into something presentable, I might well have thought that I was alone in my frustrations.

So, another benefit of being published – it makes you believe in yourself, in your writing, despite struggles.

I just hope it’s not a misplaced belief.


Aliya Whiteley said...

Oh God, yes, the bit where you think it sucks and pray that nobody else thinks it sucks. Sorry to say I'm really glad to hear someone else suffers from that.

And being published gave me confidence too, but only the kind of confidence to say what I do to strangers at parties. Not the kind to dare to think I'm any good at it yet.

Aliya Whiteley said...

I've just realised that comment sounds as if I do things to strangers at parties.

I meant to say - to tell strangers that I write books. All strangers are safe around me. I promise.

Akasha Savage said...

Oh no's not a misplaced belief.
Plus, you getting published doesn't just end with you, it has had a positive affect on me and my writing.
Seeing you achieve the goal of getting in print has reinforced my belief in myself. We 'normal' people CAN live our dreams. All it needs is hard work and perseverance.

Akasha Savage said... that as effect not affect.
Doh. Call myself a writer!!

David Isaak said...

I'm afraid to post a comment for fear that I, too, will have to add a clarification.

I'm not sure if it's made me more confident or less. But at least I have a nice-looking stack of books with my name on them. That's something.