It’s been a year since I resigned from my job as a manager and moved to a part-time, low-paying role within my organisation, all so I could focus on becoming the writer I always wanted to be.
In the past year I have started two novels, written and rewritten over thirty short stories, created more than 20 poems, completed a couple of essays, and composed a plethora of flash fiction.
I have entered hundreds of writing competitions – from flash fiction to novel development – and only won once. I have submitted poems and short stories for publication, and not had a single acceptance.
Does this mean I’m a poor writer? Or that I just have nothing worthy to say?
The most success I’ve had with my writing has been through this blog, and Twitter. The responses I’ve had go someway to disproving both the questions above. On reflection, though, there is an element of truth there also.
I believe I am becoming a better writer as time goes on. I am learning from courses I have undertaken, from following other writers’ blogs, and reflecting on the feedback I get from some of my submissions. This would indicate that although I may not be a poor writer, I definitely had (and continue to have) room for improvement. The more I write, the better writer I am becoming.
I am also finding my voice. As soon as I resigned from my manager job I started working on a novel, the idea for which I carried around for a decade. I was surprised when I found it difficult to focus on writing this novel. I mean, I’d thought about writing this story for ten years! Why was it so hard to do? I thought the problem was just me adapting to a writing lifestyle. Then it dawned on me – I’m just not that into the story.
I was writing something that I thought other people would want to read, not something I wanted to write. I was approaching my writing from a sales perspective: this book has the potential to appeal to anyone from a teenager to a grandmother, therefore it has the potential to sell and be popular. This was true when I started writing the novel, and is true now. But it was not enough to inspire me and keep me engaged with actually writing the story.
I have since put this novel aside and started a new one. This new novel engages me at a personal level where writing is a pleasure, and words pour out of me with little effort. The story entertains me as I write it (I even laugh out loud at what my characters say!), and I think about it all the time.
This is what writing is meant to be.
I may not be having much success with all my submissions and competitions, and I may still be struggling to cement my voice and ideas into writing that is compelling for publishers and readers. But I am writing. And creating things no-one else has created.
This is what I have achieved in the past year. It gives me hope for what I will be able to achieve in the year ahead!