Tag Archives: writing books

The loneliest day in the life of a published writer

In between books, when I’m pondering my next project, I like to read about writing, and I particularly enjoy books by other authors in which they share their own experiences of the highs and lows of the writing life – thoughtful books, personal books, such as the one I’ve just finished reading by Dani Shapiro, Still Writing.

This one's definitely going on my recommended reading list
This one’s definitely going on my recommended reading list

I read this book a few days after publishing my own book on writing, When a Writer isn’t Writing, and a few days before the publication of my YA novel, Driftso this idea caught my attention:

The loneliest day in the life of a published writer may be publication day. Nothing happens. Perhaps your editor sends you flowers. Maybe not. Maybe your family takes you out for dinner. But the world won’t stop to take notice. The universe is indifferent. You have put the shape of your soul between the covers of a book and no-one declares a national holiday.

Shapiro goes on to explore why writers keep on doing it, even though so few are heading towards any major recognition or celebration of their work.

I pondered before reading on, because of the moment I was in. I remembered when publication days really did feel like the loneliest time to me, in the days before social media, when maybe your publisher would send you a card, but that was all.

Back then, I learnt to make my own celebrations. I followed the Weatherly rule (Lee Weatherly‘s genius idea, passed on to me by Liz Kessler) and opened a bottle of bubbly with friends as soon as I finished a manuscript, rather than waiting a year or more for publication day before feeling I could celebrate.

I learnt to get started on something new as soon as possible, so that my creative energies were happily engaged in writing the next book rather than focusing on the build-up to publication day for the one I’d finished.

When publication day did eventually come, I learnt the importance of throwing a party, not as a publicity or sales event, but as a personal celebration, because writing a book is hard and, as the writer of your particular book, you know what an incredible achievement it has been to go the distance.

This year, the launch is in a lovely gallery on the edge of Dartmoor. All welcome!
This year, the launch is in a lovely gallery on the edge of Dartmoor. All welcome!

I still do all these things, but I must say publication day doesn’t feel so lonely any more to me now that we’ve got facebook, twitter and blogging. When I put the word out about a new book, I straight away hear back from people I know and people I’ve never met, so that instead of a solitary card on my doormat I receive a steady flow of congratulations.

Soon after that, rather than waiting several months to receive a few letters from readers via my publisher, I start getting direct messages in twitter and fb, and emails through my website, from people who have bought my book, and started reading it.

A lovely selfie via fb from a friend who has just bought my book
A lovely selfie via fb from a friend who has just bought my book

And rather than just a press review or two, readers begin to post their thoughts on my new book in amazon and elsewhere.

So publication day is no longer the loneliest day for this writer, and that’s down to all of you. Thank-you for calling by!

Advertisements

The Grand Blog Tour arrives at the House of Dreams!

I’d like to thank Katina Wright for inviting me to take part in the Grand Blog Tour this week. I love Kat’s blog because it’s a joyful celebration of creativity and it’s very pretty. Here’s the link Wright Story

BLOGbanner_USE2011

Everyone on the Grand Blog Tour has to answer four questions, and they’re every writer’s favourite questions to answer.

 1. What are you working on?

I wrote a children’s book about writing years ago and always intended to do one for adults some day – that day has come! I’ve got lots of fabulous contributions from my friends in the Scattered Authors Society, and absolutely no quotations that I’ll need to get permissions for (this is why)

I think this book will sit really well alongside ‘Writing in the House of Dreams’ so I hope to publish it in the New Year, a few months after that one comes out in September.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

It’s hard to say, considering that my work covers lots of different genres, but doing something different feels important to me. There wouldn’t be any point in writing something someone else has already written.

When I wrote my bullying books they were – and as far as I’m aware, still are – the only self-help books that focused on psychological self-defence, helping children to deal with high levels of anger and fear in bullying situations, to maintain their self-esteem and overcome any feelings of shame. When ‘Bullies, Bigmouths and So-called Friends’ came out in 2003, the Independent reviewer asked, ‘Could this be the first self-help book for children?’

With my dream book, I didn’t want to do a dictionary/interpretation kind of book because there are already so many books of this kind on the market. I wanted to tell my own dream adventures and offer some practical writing activities that could give others a glimpse into how each dream experience feels, even if they don’t recall their dreams. I don’t think anyone else has done this but even if they have, my own story and the exercises from my ‘House of Dreams’ workshops are obviously unique.

I think my writing book will be different too – as ‘How to be a Brilliant Writer’ was an unusual writing book for children, but I never talk about my work-in-progress. Sorry!

3. Why do you write what you do?

I write to entertain, but also to share ideas that have made my life feel richer. I love new challenges so I choose projects that are going to stretch me and take me into unfamiliar territory.

4. How does your writing process work?

I’m allergic to timetables and routines so I found the years when I was having to fit my writing in around school and playgroup quite challenging. These days it’s completely organic. When I’m at the pondering, pre-planning stage I might spend days at the beach or tramping over the moors. When I’m actively sorting out a plan, I like to take power naps because I find things organise in my mind while I’m asleep.

Once I start the actual writing I can work 24:7 because I never know exactly how the book is going to be and I’m excited to find out.

Then finally, when I’ve finished my first draft, my redrafting works in a nice steady nine to five kind of way, and as soon as I’ve send the MS off to my agent, I crack open a bottle of bubbly.

Now it just remains for me to take the Grand Tour forward to other blogs I think you might love. They’ll will be joining the tour on the 5th May.

Abi Burlingham is a children’s author I’ve got to know over the last few years through blogging and social networking – I’ve never met her but I think of her as a friend. Her blog is about art, life and writing, which is a great mix as far as I’m concerned. here’s the link

Carolyn Hughes writes about recovery and emotional healing on her blog called The Hurt Healer, which has a following of thousands. Like Abi, she’s another friend I’ve never met 🙂

Tessa Hillman has a really unusual blog called Yoga Stories where she offers stories on demand. She’s a good friend I actually have met, and meet up with from time to time.