Earlier this week I blogged about the need to refill the well without apology if you are an introvert i.e. factoring in down time after every social engagement to allow yourself a chance to recover. From a writing perspective this is crucial too. A lot of writers are introverts. We spend the majority of our days in solitude typing away on our keyboards living in fantasy worlds of our own construction. It is important to have some interaction with the outside world, of course, but we don’t feel as though we are missing out if we are not at every party or social gathering.
That’s all well and good but what happens when your book is written and it’s time to get the word out? Suddenly the introvert has to become, to a greater or lesser degree, an extrovert whether they like it or not.
I have found myself in that situation a lot this summer as I have been hand selling my book at various craft fairs or summer fetes. It is not something I would choose to do for fun. But this year for me (my first of publication) is all about trying different things and seeing what works.
The idea of being ‘up’ for a social engagement of several hours, interacting with the public throughout and basically being ‘on duty’ does not exactly gladden my heart. Leaving aside the practicalities of whether the event is a success from a selling point of view (a mixed bag on that front) or whether spending the time in my study writing would have been more productive (quite possibly), the simple act of being ‘on duty’ for any length of time in a social situation is exhausting for an introvert like me.
As writers who wish to sell books we have to be prepared to push ourselves out there. No one else is going to do it for us. Even the superstars have to do their fair share of marketing, the only difference is they have a team to organise it, the writer still has to do it. For the rest of us, we are our own teams.
The internet and social media have allowed introverts to project themselves into the wider world from the comfort of home but not everything can be done through a computer screen. Sometimes, showing up in person is the only way. Writers who are introverts need to work out how much face to face contact they can take on. Be realistic. Just because you should be doing all these things because someone else who is successful told you you should does not mean that you will be able to handle it. We are all different. Know your limitations and work within them. If you attempt to suppress your nature by trying to be all things to all people you will crash and burn, it’s a question of when not if.
The world won’t stop turning if you attend three events instead of four but taking your introverted nature into account when planning your marketing strategy may make all the difference between success and failure. Better to succeed on your own terms and enjoy the experience than spread yourself too thinly. If you go for the full on option and pretend like you are an extrovert you may still achieve success but at what cost? My guess is you’ll be miserable and exhausted and that, for me, is too high a price to pay.
As you will be aware if you read my post from earlier this week the cover of my book The Flower Seller is taking part in Author Shout’s Cover Wars this week 24th July – 30th July. As I type this I am currently in the lead but only by 7 votes! If you like the cover and would like to vote you can do so by visiting the Author Shout site http://authorshout.com/cover-wars/ You will need to like their Facebook page, tweet or G+ them and then you are able to vote for your favourite cover BUT you must only vote once in every 24 hour period of your vote will not count.
If you are already voting for the cover of The Flower Seller – and I know a lot of you are – thank you so much! #goteamellie!
The Liebster award is an online award given to new bloggers or those with less than 200 followers by other bloggers- it’s all about providing support and encouragement and increasing exposure.
‘Liebster’ in German apparently means ‘sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome’ and is the ideal name for an award that allows baby bloggers to share the love.
I was delighted to discover that I had been nominated for a Liebster Award by the lovely Jane at Candelo Blooms https://candeloblooms.com/ Jane describes herself as ‘An Old-fashioned Rose enthusiast, who is passionate about her garden, creativity and beauty, nature, birds and the environment, sustainability, self-sufficiency, Slow Living and enjoying all the good things of Life!’ How could you not love her?!
Her blog centres around her garden. Each month there are feature plants and updates on her gardening adventures. Jane also blogs about baking and includes some mouth-watering recipes with easy to follow instructions and if all that wasn’t enough she also chronicles her favourite places with exotic names such as Nethercote Falls and Moon Bay (…if that’s not a title for a romantic novel I don’t know what is!). All of these wonderful blogs are accompanied by stunning photographs taken by the lady herself who is clearly a talented photographer. You will be spoilt for choice about which post to read first. I know I was and I am looking forward to learning more about Jane’s beautiful part of the world.
The Liebster Award has been going since 2011 and the rules have evolved over time. The official rules of The Liebster Award 2016, if your blog has been nominated and you have chosen to accept it, are below:
Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers.
Create 11 questions for your own nominees to answer.
Once you have written and published it, you then have to: Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it.
What inspired you to write a blog?
I published my debut novel The Flower Seller (http://goo.gl/g4L7oY) in June 2016 and I decided it would be fun to start a blog at the beginning of 2016 leading up to publication and beyond. I try to blog twice a week, once at the beginning of the week about a broad range of subjects and once on Thursdays on a writing related topic.
2. What are your favourite things about blogging?
I love how inclusive, supportive and encouraging the blogging community is. Blogging helps to hone my skills as a writer and it’s always nice when a particular post strikes a chord with readers. I have been introduced to some wonderful people from all over the world because of blogging and my life is richer as a result.
3. What are your tips for new bloggers?
Decide how often you can realistically create and post a blog and then stick to that schedule. Publicise your blogs on Twitter and make use of hastags like #Sundayblogshare and #Mondayblogs to reach a wider audience.
4. What do you think are the 3 most important qualities in a person?
A kind heart, a sense of humour and loyalty.
5. If you were to make a mood board about yourself, what are 3 core beliefs or loves, which you would include?
Goodness that is a hard question! Live every day like it’s your last, be kind to yourself as well as others and don’t let fear hold you back.
6. If you could time-travel, which time period would you like to visit and why?
I enjoy genealogy and I would love to be able to go back and visit previous generations of my family so that I could experience their everyday lives. I know the facts and figures of where and when they lived and what they did for a living but to actually see their homes and the world they lived in would be pretty special.
7. If you could meet 3 famous people, who would they be and why?
Jimmy Connors. My all time favourite tennis player. I loved his fight to the last point philosophy – a good analogy for life itself. I was lucky enough to meet him at Wimbledon one year when he was commentating. I came over all fan girl and asked for an autograph which he graciously gave me and then had a chat! He was as nice in person as I always hoped he would be.
Daphne Du Maurier. One of my favourite authors. A fascinating and complicated character in her own right, I would love to discuss the mechanics of writing with her and our shared love of Cornwall.
Eleanor of Aquitaine. What a lady! A duchess by birth, she became Queen of France through her marriage to Louis VII and later England through her marriage to Henry II, mother of ten children and matriarch of the notorious or glorious (depending on your viewpoint) Plantagenets. She would be able to provide a fascinating firsthand account of the tumultuous times in which she lived.
8. What is your favourite book or author? Tell us a bit about it/ them.
I am going to have to cheat and give two favourite authors. Daphne Du Maurier for her rich gothic plots and her love of Cornwall and Sidney Sheldon the master of the page turning read. Daphne Du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn is a classic and my favourite Sidney Sheldon novel is Bloodline – a thrilling read, part love story, part murder mystery that keeps you guessing right to the end.
9. What is your favourite garden and/ or plant?
My favourite garden is Trebah in Cornwall. A simply magical garden built along the sides and floor of a valley and with its own private beach at the end. An enchanting garden. My favourite plant has to be the agapanthus – because they remind me of Cornish holidays.
10. What are your favourite hobbies/ pastimes (apart from blogging, of course!)
Reading, writing, history, gardening and following tennis, athletics and ice skating
11. Name 10 things which make you happy!
My puppy Willow
Losing myself in a good book or blog
Spending time with family and friends
Visiting and learning about new places
Indulging my love of history
That first cup of tea when the house is quiet
Listening to the rain falling when I am cosy in bed
Ten Random Facts About Me
I love to walk to the beat of a different drum. Tell me to go left and I will immediately want to go right!
I love tomato soup but hate tomatoes.
I love being left handed even though it can be challenging (ever taken over the stirring of a pot from a right handed person and ended up covered in sauce…)
I believe in making the most of every day and achieve it more often than not.
I enjoy spending time on my own.
I am fascinated by the Plantagenets – mad, bad and dangerous to know but captivating too.
I enjoy cheese and jam (no bits) sandwiches.
I get grumpy if I don’t write.
I’m still twenty-three – it’s just everyone else who got older!
I love sitting in my sun lounge with a good book and my dog.
When I first made the decision that I wanted to be a published author I knew it would involve a lot of hard work. What I didn’t appreciate was how many other people all harboured the same dream. Naïve at the way the business worked, I wrongly assumed that if you were good enough you would make it. The knowledge that there were only a limited number of slots available per genre, per publisher, per year had not yet filtered down to me.
Over the years the realities of the business began to sink in. It was not only that there were limited slots available but some of those slots were taken up by existing authors being given space for their second, third and fourth books. The spaces left for debut novelists continued to be squeezed. With unproven track records, it was a hard sell to convince the money men to take a risk on an unknown particularly if lucrative money could be made enticing a celebrity on board instead. The saving grace for the publisher being that at least the celebrity would bring with them a readymade market (or so they hoped!).
The traditional publishing world is still like that. Serendipity can put a debut novelist in the right place at the right time but it can often be a long waiting game. With the advent of self-publishing as an affordable and completely doable process, the avenues now open to writers have increased.
Self-publishing has been a game changer for the indie authors who have embraced these new opportunities and for the old world agents and publishers who are grappling to assimilate what it will mean for their business models and the world of books as a whole. The term hybrid author is now on everyone’s lips – someone who has a traditional deal but who is also an indie author for some of their work.
Self-publishing has given the power of making decisions back to the author and we are very fortunate to live in this brave, new world.
Once upon a time I thought my writing career would be pretty linear. I would write a book, get an agent, they would sell the book to a traditional publisher and I would be published. After experiencing a few false dawns along the way, I eventually came to realise that those whose paths are linear are pretty lucky and few and far between. The rest of us will have a much more challenging road to follow to publication, full of twists and turns, the occasional dead end and some interesting rest stops along the way.
My own route was more country road than motorway but that’s okay. I saw a lot more of the landscape of the publishing industry during the journey, I learned about the business of writing but I also became a better writer simply because I’d been doing it longer and (hopefully!) learning from my mistakes.
I think the journey has stood me in good stead for the new challenges that are to come. There may have been times when I lost heart for a while but looking back now, I am glad I took the scenic route.
On Monday I blogged about the Japanese tradition of Wabi Sabi – the art of appreciating beauty in an imperfect world. Novelists should embrace the concept of wabi sabi. For writers who strive to create the perfect sentence are not only likely to fail but drive themselves nuts in the process.
Anne Lamott in her excellent book ‘Bird by Bird’ extols the virtues of ‘writing a shitty first draft’ and I applaud her for it. Write the story that is buzzing around in your head, capture those characters, their voices and their hopes and fears. Don’t worry about the story arc or a particular character’s journey. Don’t try to craft the perfect sentence, scene or chapter. Just write the story. Capture its essence, it’s heart. If you love it, others will too.
The rest will come on the second run through and countless edits but if you write with the handbrake off and let the story explode out of your head and through your fingers and on to the screen or page if you write longhand, the spirit of the story will shine through.
When you come to start the edits try to get the concept of the perfect sentence out of your head. We all want to write the best books we can but if you get hung up on the little details you will find the editing process a constant source of frustration instead of the joy it can become as we see our book grow with each change and rewrite.
You need to do enough to shape the book into all it can be but not so much that you deaden the writing and lose the essence of what you worked so hard to capture in the first place. It’s a delicate balancing act but one worth pursuing and far more worthwhile than wasting your time and energy chasing the perfect sentence.
If such a thing as the perfect sentence exists and one day you create it you can allow yourself a moment’s pride. But remember a perfect sentence does not make a novel. It’s the thousands of other imperfect sentences that will make the difference. Novels are wabi sabi and that’s okay by me.
There is a quote above the entrance to Centre Court at Wimbledon, the home of lawn tennis, that is taken from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If (written in 1895 and published in 1910). The quote is ‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same’. The message of the line and indeed the poem is that it is important to maintain your equilibrium and not be swayed or over react to either the good or the bad but hold a steady path.
I was reminded of that in the last couple of weeks as I launched my debut novel The Flower Seller. I have received some lovely reviews – a couple have moved me to tears but Kipling’s quote kept coming back to me. It is important to remember that the reviewers are reviewing my work not me. It is easy to get caught up in the wrong mindset. As writers we put our hearts and souls into our books. We want them to succeed but more than anything we want people to say nice things about them. Once a book is out there in the big, wide world however, we can no longer control who reads it or what they say about it. This is another reason why it is important to hold on to who you are rather than let your mood be swayed by what you do and how people react to it.
Receiving great reviews is a wonderful feeling but you still have to go back to work and write the next book. Glowing comments can make you feel good. You should be proud of the achievement of having completed a novel. Even bad books are hard work to write. But you shouldn’t carry the baggage of reviews back to the keyboard with you. If you are not careful good reviews will have you paralysed as you struggle with the problems of your next story and suddenly as well as all your normal gripes and writing hang ups you will find you have developed a new set centred around the concept of ‘the next book will never be as good as the last’. If you want to write anything at all, good or bad, you will have to shut out all of the reviews your previous work has received or else risk being hamstrung by them.
I have been lucky so far with regard to bad reviews. But they will come because all authors get them. I was warned recently not to read any one or two star reviews EVER. Once you read them the words will be on a replay loop in your mind and you will either be hurt by the views or stung by the injustice if you don’t agree with them. They will also follow you back to the keyboard and lurk in your psyche. When you are at your lowest and gripped by the absolute certainty that you cannot write a good sentence to save your life that is when they will pounce and every word of those sharp reviews will cut you again.
One things is certain, you will never forget them. Ask sportspeople about their greatest triumphs and they will smile and recount their feelings. Ask them about their losses and the pain will be etched deeply on their faces as if it happened only yesterday instead of weeks, months or years ago. They will recall the smallest detail surrounding the loss and admit they still think about how things could have been done differently.
The pain of defeat seems to outweigh the joy we feel over triumph.
As writers we can save ourselves from the pain by not reading the bad reviews. The bravest of us would be strong enough to resist reading any review. I am not that brave but I am going to try my best to exist in my bubble and not let any review, good or bad, influence my work when I next sit down to write. Wish me luck!
Today is the launch day for my debut novel The Flower Seller. The Flower Seller has had a long and tortuous road to publication and if it’s tangled journey has taught me anything it is that patience and stickability are talents every writer needs.
It is all too easy to write a rough draft, edit it and think job done. For the lucky few that’s all it takes. For the rest of us edits, polishes and rewrites are the name of the game.
Finally you reach the point where your manuscript is polished to within an inch of its life and it is time to let it fly into the world. If you are fortunate, as I was, an agent will offer you a contract and you might think it’s only a matter of time until I reach my goal of being published.
Sometimes, however, despite the best endeavours of your agent and some very complimentary comments about your writing, no offer is forthcoming and you realise it’s not going to be that straightforward after all.
After ten years of plugging away, I decided to go the self-publishing route as I didn’t want to wait any longer for the phone to ring or the email to arrive. I wanted to take my destiny into my own hands. After all, if I didn’t believe in me how could I expect other people to?
I got to grips with Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest and platform building. I read countless articles on a hundred different aspects of the publishing industry. I hired experts to assist me where I needed help and the bits that I thought I could manage I figured out myself. Every time I mastered something new, I sat back and thought ‘Right, I’m nearly there now!’ How wrong could I be?! Maintaining a social media presence never stops. It is constantly evolving and you have to be there evolving with it, trying new things, being present.
As I mentioned at the start of this blog post today is publication day for The Flower Seller. It is the realisation of a major life goal. A long held dream achieved. Job done? I’d like to think so but I know better now. The truth is ‘the job’ is never done. The Flower Seller is published, that is all and when the champagne has all been drunk the real work begins: marketing the book, spreading the word and, of course, writing the next one.
I was asked recently what I had dreamed of doing when I was a child. My answer was that I had always wanted to be a writer and so I guess you could say I am living the dream but as is so often the case the reality of something is usually quite different to how we imagined it would be.
My younger self imagined life as a writer would involve:-
Wafting around in a series of glamorous outfits.
Occasionally sitting down to write when the muse took me.
A view of the sea through my open study windows, the curtains softly billowing in the warm summer breeze.
Meeting deadlines with effortless ease.
Feeling relaxed, fulfilled and at peace doing what I love.
Doing what I wanted, when I wanted.
Making lots of money.
What a lovely way to live!
My adult self can only look on in wonder at the innocence of the world through a child’s eyes. I particularly blame Dallas for my idea that writers wafted around in glamorous outfits! Donna Krebbs you have a lot to answer for!
And now to the reality:-
Wearing battered jeans most of the time – especially when I don’t leave the house for days on end. I haven’t yet succumbed to writing in my PJs but give it another couple of years…..
Making myself sit at my desk at least for some period of time every day whether the elusive muse is with me or not.
A view of my car parked on the drive and next door’s front door. If I had my windows open a chilly easterly wind would be blowing most of the time.
Stressing about the fact I am committing myself to publishing something by a certain date that I haven’t even started yet.
Feeling tired, overwrought and lacking in confidence 80% of the time.
With one eye on my deadlines, always playing ‘Can I afford the time…’ in my head for everything else.
The material rewards may not be on offer to the vast majority but what would we do with all that money anyway? We’d probably just buy a better computer and a fancy chair. The beautiful view would be wasted on us and the glamorous outfits would get all creased and covered with crumbs of chocolate.
The reality of life for most writers is very different from what the majority of people imagine it to be. But in answer to the question – am I living the dream? Yes, I am.
I get to write. Every day if I want. What could be better than that?
Today’s blog is the latest in my Flower Seller collection of writing related blogs leading up to publication day of my debut novel The Flower Seller on Thursday 2nd June 2016 #FlowerSellerThursday