Last week corks popped, fizz fizzed. I signed a publishing contract with Fledgling Press. My debut novel The Incomers, will be published in April/May 2012. I have been submitting the manuscript for the past fifteen months and even though I never lost the belief that I would find a publisher I always sighed when a rejection came through the post or popped into my inbox.
All the writing articles I read said that perseverance is the key and I had to believe them. Every time I heard Christopher Brookmyre, Iain Banks, and all the other big names say they had written three, four, five books before they got a break my resolve strengthened.
I finished The Incomers in April 2010. The job of writing a novel is an arduous task in itself, the feeling of achievement on completion is immense. The job had only just begun. There was still months of submissions ahead and in the mean time the writing must continue.
At first I tried writing another novel, but I was creatively drained. I wrote a couple of short stories and resurrected a few more. I set about trying to get all my short stories published. This meant more submissions, more rejections but it also meant more successes. While I waited for the big one, I used these small kernels of success to keep me motivated.
I attended a short summer course where I began to write a stage play. This is a craft I had no experience of, so the learning was exciting and boosted me on the mega rejections days.
I took a poetry class which I believed would help hone my editing and language skills. It was an enjoyable experience but taught me I lacked the meditative skills great poets require. I do not know how to sit and do nothing for long stretches of time (unless I am sitting by the Atlantic).
I began to write a children’s series and developed a proposal which only highlighted the amount of bite I still had to chew.
And eventually I began that other novel and then stuck fifty thousand words in.
Now I have a publishing contract it would be easy to sit back and bask, maybe daydream a poet’s day away. But that is not me. I have had my week of glory and fizz.
On Monday I entered my self appointed writing cave. The place I go to write. I do not allow myself to procrastinate; I restrict access to Facebook and email. My To Do list is crumpled and tossed in the bin. My house is left to rot, the washing basket to over flow and the garden to fill with weeds. My car lies dormant, no trips to Glasgow or Fife. I am in the cave for the duration. This I can endure because I know it is only for two weeks.
This week I will progress my children’s series, next week I will polish the play to send to the Playwrights Studio for assessment and then reread the fifty thousand word work in progress. (Oops is that a To Do list?)
My excitement of publication is still with me and each day I do a couple of hours towards making The Incomers a success. The baby was born, has been accepted and now I have to prepare her for the world.
It may sound like hell but my writing time is limited and I always have extra time in the day to read, research , play guitar and nap. I have read interviews with writers who say they do this every day, but I can’t see how that is possible. I know by the end of this fortnight I will have cave fever, but I will have a bulk of work behind me and a good platform on which to return to my normal piddling about on a diet of a couple of hours writing a day and my beloved To Do list.
My writing cave? No, but it is a lovely memory of Ronda to keep me on track