And so my story goes, I’ve been writing all my life, children’s stories mainly. I started my first book “A Load of Rubbish” while wandering the outback of Australia. It’s about a shoe, Seamus, and he’s lost, probably a metaphor for myself at the time. It started in a notebook and took many guises until finally ready for a send off. I kissed a few envelopes and put them, dreams and all, in the post.
And so I waited, wide-eyed.
Months later the responses flooded my postbox. Self addressed envelopes covered the tiled hallway. The postman thought I’d gone mad.
“Another letter from your friends overseas,” he winked one day. I blushed and shut the door, heart pounding for the positive response, the start of my glittering career.
“We regret to inform you....” It became a mantra, I started saying those words in my sleep. Upon the fiftieth refusal, I decided an agent just wasn’t for me. I’d go on alone.
I uploaded the story to Authonomy.com, surely some publishing powerhouse would stumble upon my masterpiece. With the click of a mouse, I’d be publishing history.
The story took off and before long it had amassed amazing reviews and a top spot on the editors desk at Harper Collins. Again I waited, hardly breathing. When the review came it was good, nice even, but tones of “we regret to inform you...” filtered between the words.
Undeterred, I left “Rubbish” aside to collect dust in a drawer. I wanted to be a writer, this much I knew, so I joined a course taught by two inspirational tutors. I tightened things up, my writing not my waistline. Experimented, took apart sentences to rebuild them, words were my mortar. I learnt to love language, to play with it in a way no oxford graduate would ever condone.
I wrote another children’s book “A Place Called Perfect”. Printed, packaged, kissed and waited. This time among the “regrets to inform...” were “requests for full manuscript.”
I printed, packaged and kissed again, then held my breath. There were a few almosts, some nearlys, but all were nothings.
Agents just weren’t for me. This time I would self publish. I’d been following the revolution, it was the way of the world. If you have a good story, it WILL be found. I read those words over and over again.
I was a designer, this was easy. I laid out the interior, designed my cover and pressed print. The post this time bore fruit. Copies of my shiney new novel. I didn’t know what to feel. It was here, but only because I published it, I whispered when asked.
But it sold and sold well. A number of shops took stock, on advice I visited schools and loved telling tales to entranced students. Soon “Perfect” was a number 1 bestseller. I got emails from children with all kinds of questions, they loved the story, I loved their emails.
Local was great but, with proven pedigree, surely national was now an option? Distribution companies didn’t agree. I was self published, a shame on the industry. If I secured national radio and television coverage, they’d think about taking me on, sounded like another “we regret to inform you.”
So will I give up? A question I’d never pondered ‘til a stroke of luck backfired.
A world famous, not to be named, children’s author, read Perfect and loved it, they told me one evening by phone. They asked to meet and passed on agent details. I almost collapsed, hyperventilating on hangup.
It was another dead end, a series of disasters. You’re used to it, you’ll say, get back on that horse, we writers have leather skin. But this knock cracked the mould. I’ve always held unwavering belief. Never doubted writing was a path paved for me. This wound was a tricky repair.
I sat and wrestled with thought. Do I love writing? Yes, of course. Do I want to be a writer? Yes, definitely. Am I a writer? Ah ha, now that’s the question.
In the past I would have said no. Writers are people with bigs words, wear berets and are in a world I couldn’t possibly inhabit. I’d be found out as a fraud.
Self publishing changed this. It brought my work to an audience that have no obligation to like what I do and yet they do. Surely the reader decides the writer?
So although now a little battered, I will keep trying for that agent, that publisher, that elusive god like creature hiding behind insect eyed sunglasses, but I will also self publish and continue scratching the surface of what I love.
Only those who keep going will get there. Many start the road, to be taken out by obstacles. I’ve met hurdles, been bruised by some, but climbed all. I believe there’s something round that next corner and, call me nosey, but I’m having a look.
Will I give up? No. Will you? What's your story?
Facebook: facebook.com/Helddesign or facebook.com/APlaceCalledPerfect