My schedule is all over the place right now thanks to a hectic Mental Health Awareness Month and a couple of hastily prepared posts in light of recent events. Not to worry though. Things are starting to ease their way back to something resembling normal now.
Welcome to another edition of the series centred around my writing. It’s fair to say that writing has been at the forefront of my mind lately as I look at new material I can put out there on my blog. The ideas are rolling in rather thick and fast at the moment, as well as trying to edit and prepare stuff I’ve already written for publication or relaunch on here.
This is all great. I love working on new things and preparing myself to launch new work for everyone to see and cast their critical eye on. The reaction to A Survivor’s Apocalypse Story, for example, was really positive the first time around, so I’m excited to see how everyone takes to the second instalment. I have short stories and flash fiction to come as well. I love being busy with writing.
It’s not all good news though. I’ve been thinking a lot about Seas of Vengeance over the last few weeks and the fact that the only interest shown in the submissions I’ve made has been from publishers offering shared risk deals. Agents aren’t interested. Serious publishers aren’t interested. I know it’s early days, but the spectre of doubt is creeping in with the big, scary question: is my novel actually good enough to be published?
Maybe ‘good enough’ is the wrong thing to say. “Is it original/mould breaking enough?” might be more apt. It’s a story set in the early eighteenth century when white men ruled the western hemisphere and the main characters are all white men. Historically, that’s an accurate reflection. My concern is that, nowadays, are people looking for something that spits in the face of historical accuracy? Do agents and publishers expect to see a strong female heavily involved, despite the fact female sailors were extremely rare in those days? Do they expect to see an ethnic or cultural minority rising against the oppressive Europeans of the time? I don’t deliver either of those things. Is that what’s wrong with my novel?
Of course, I’m clutching at straws. I’m second guessing. I’ve had no feedback from any of the people who have rejected my work, so I don’t know what the issue is or why it’s not deemed worthy of taking on and fine-tuning. Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est–For knowledge itself is power. If I don’t know exactly what makes it so un-publishable then I don’t know what I should go back and alter, adjust, remove, add, etc.
I’ve recently had a downturn in my mental health and was suffering a sustained period of low mood, during which I was genuinely weighing up whether continuing writing was a good idea for my mental health going forwards. My love for writing isn’t in question, but I feel I’m not achieving the progress I hoped I would. Of course, that was the low mood talking. Now I’m on the upswing I know I’ll never just abandon writing, though I do still feel the doubt. Like I’m not good and/or original enough to be a successful fiction writer.
Doubt has followed me around like a bad smell for pretty much the entirety of my life. Confidence comes in drips and drabs; doubt is an annoying constant. It seeps into everything I do. Worse still are the times where I have the confidence to do something and it doesn’t have the desired effect I was hoping for. As opposed to feeling I’ll try harder next time I think “Well, balls to putting myself out there again!” and duly withdraw. It happened with my music. It’s happened with more women than I care to recall.
Where do I get the wherewithal to show my ever-present doubt the middle finger and plough forth regardless? I know some frankly amazing people on WordPress alone who have shoved all the negativity aside and pressed forth to achieve success in varying enterprises. Keri and Emma have landed publishing contracts; Lucy has had great (and deserved) success through self-publishing her novels; summerSHINES is now a legit businesswoman whose brand is growing rapidly. There are other bloggers who get five–ten times the likes my posts do without even seeming to try. Is it all about confidence and shunning doubt? Is there something more that I’m either not aware of or simply haven’t got the patience to try?
At this stage, I’m genuinely not sure what I should do. I can’t justify putting money into any kind of marketing or path towards self-publishing. I don’t know if it’s the story that’s putting off publishers and agents or if it’s my submission applications not being strong enough. If I had an idea then I’d be able to do something about it.
In conclusion to all of this, I haven’t got a sodding idea what to do going forward. I’m stuck in limbo. If anybody has any advice then please send it on a postcard!
Catch the rest of this series here.