Monday 17 April 2017

The Trials Of An Indie Author: When You Want To Give Up


This is something I've been meaning to talk about for a long while. It's been on my to-do list for writing advice for months and I've always picked something else to write about. But today, having had a bad few weeks, it seem prudent to cover a topic that I'm sure crosses a lot of writer's minds, and not just mine. It's something that isn't talked about much, probably because it's seen as attention seeking or worse, admitting failure, but it's something that I'm going to cover today. And that is that there will be days, weeks, even months, when you look at what you're doing and ask yourself if it's time to throw in the towel.

I have been writing since I was nineteen years old...scratch that I have been writing as a career since I was nineteen years old. I was first published at twenty-three and then my career really kicked off when I was twenty-nine. I'm now thirty-five. I have been published for almost twelve years and I have been writing as a career for almost sixteen. Along the way I've had moments of doubts, of course I have, and there have been times in those sixteen years when I have not written. The majority of my time at university I didn't write, despite having books out and published. I didn't write because my focus was on getting the books I had written out there in the world. I also found it hard to juggle writing and being a student when so much of one took too much energy from me to manage the other. It was only in my final two years at university that I was able to both write and study and even then some days it was a big struggle.

But one thing that has always remained true is that writing itself is an escape, it's fun, it's something I look forward to, something I find pleasure in doing. When everything else has gone wrong, I can always find myself in my work. I know how lucky I am to be able to have a job that always makes me smile and allows me to do what I love and get paid for it. The writing part is never a chore and never something I dread. But yet there are times when I feel like throwing in the towel. When I feel like all of this work is too much for me, all of the ups and downs of being an indie author are out of my reach and that I am sinking in a pool and no one can see me.

My hopes and dreams as an author are simple: Write books and stories that I have to tell. I don't look for celebrity status and I don't yearn to be the next J K Rowling, and maybe that's where I get lost along the way, but I know one thing for certain. I have to tell these stories. No one else will, no one else can. They are my stories and I need to tell them. And yet there are still days when I find myself looking at the open document and thinking: "Can I really do this again? Can I really finish another book? And publish it and do all of that that goes with publishing it?" The majority of the time, the answer is a resounding yes, but yet there are days when that small voice says to me: No, you can't.

As someone who has multiple conditions that inhibit my life, as someone who also has mental health issues, I can't tell you how hard it is sometimes to remind myself that I am doing something I love. That I am doing something I want to do and that I am doing it to the best of my ability. And sometimes it's not good enough. Sometimes it doesn't get me massive amounts of sales and it doesn't get me to the goals I have set myself, but the thing I have to remind myself is - it takes as long as it takes. I may not be a best seller, but I am further along than I was a year ago. I have written sixteen books with another two underway, and I will soon have eleven of those books published, out and on people's bookshelves. I may never be a big name, but I am doing something I love, and I am doing it well.

In the indie world, it's a well known fact that the market is saturated with books. It's one part of being indie is knowing that anyone can publish a book, whether it does any good is down to so many factors that sometimes my head spins. Getting your voice heard over the crowd of people all saying the same thing is no easy task and it's not one I've accomplished that well, but the point I'm trying to make is, that you have to keep going. Even on the days when it feels like all you do are the wrong things, and the mistakes you make are ones that have you still, years later, trying to undo, you have to keep going. You have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, grab your megaphone and keep doing what you're doing, keep going along that path. It's hard. It's not easy by any defintion of the word and yeah, it sucks at times. But if you don't keep going, if you do throw in the towel and let your hard work fall by the wayside. You stop.

You stop having a job where you get up in the more just to create. You stop being the person who wrote this book and that book. You stop being the author that you so wanted to be. You stop creating. And you let the gremlin win. I don't want to be in a world where I don't wake up every morning and think about what my characters are going to be put through today. I don't want to stop. I don't want to stop being the author I am. Yes, it's hard and yes there are days when I am so ready to throw in the towel. There are weeks when I curse my choices and my job and everything along the way. But I also remember that I am an author. I am a writer. No matter what I choose to do with my day, I have stories to tell, stories that no one else can tell because they are mine and mine alone.

I am many things, I am disabled, I am bisexual, I am a wheelchair user and I do so many things, but I am also a writer. And when I want to give up, I remind myself of where I was, where I am, and where I am going to be. And that to get there, I have to keep going.

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