Monday, 30 November 2015

Ebb and Flow - the life of an unpublished writer

When you writing and pursuing publication life is full of ebb and flow and rather a lot ‘NO!’ Sometimes you believe that you are flowing closer to the island of ‘Publication’ as the waves of the slushpile bring you closer to shore. For a few years I sailed by vessel across the turbulent shushpile sea and managed to get the island in sight, a few long-listings and honorary mentions in new writers competitions felt like flow, then the rejections of submission made the ebbing felling come back. 

The 2014 brought me closer than I’ve ever got, so close, that I had to abandon my vessel and swim franticly towards the shoreline. I secured my first contract for a YA novella with an imprint I love and I got taken on by a literary agent. For the first time when someone asked me what I do, I could answer ‘Writer’ without feeling like fraud and I had an actual positive response to the dread question; Are you published? 

It felt great, as if the flow had gained momentum, and I had to swim faster to get edits done, and blog, and network and generally up my game ready for submission. Then disaster hit, the wind changed direction and I was blown out into the middle of the Slushpile Ocean. With in a week, my contract was cancelled, as publishers decided not to proceed with the novella range, and then my lovely agent who I worked so well with and learnt so much from, announced she was leaving the agenting business to pursue another career. 

That's when it dawned on me that success as a writer is binary you are either on the island or somewhere in the ocean. And when the ebb is the main course, you need to build yourself another raft, a sturdier one, and start rowing for all your worth.

That being said it’s not easy, sometimes you have to drift a while first, for me that was about a month, of rising and falling on the waves, from upbeat to despair. But my kick into action was my writer friends and being thrown safety line from the esteemed ship SCBWI, by way for the conference party. Being surrounded by other folk who are all serious about their craft and passionate about writing and illustrating whether they too are riding the slushpile waves, or standing with their wet feet on the shoreline, made me realise I’m, not alone and that rebuilding the raft was the right thing to do. So, thank you to all my writer friends, and my ever patient family, and here to a upcoming new year which with luck may be more flow than ebb!