Writer Angst and other luxuries…

I haven’t posted on here for a while – I’ve been too busy writing/rewriting/ripping it all up and starting again/wondering if I’m completely delusional. You know, all the fab things about being a writer.

When I wrote Dandelion Clocks it was the very first thing I had ever written and it took me six weeks, writing in the evenings and at weekends. Getting an agent and then going to auction with three different publishers was surreal and amazing – but I’m not sure that I truly understood just how lucky I was. There was very little angst or soul-searching. Basically, writing was fun and getting published was fun. Books two and three followed rapidly (possibly a little more rapidly than was good for me) and I thought I had this writing lark totally nailed.

And then suddenly, without any warning, what I was writing wasn’t what publishers wanted and I didn’t know what to do about it. I’m a teacher and my day job is very outcome-orientated. We identify where something isn’t working and figure out what to do about it. We set targets and then we look at whether what we’re doing is sorting the issue. So when my writing wasn’t ticking the right boxes, I wanted to know what I needed to do to improve. I was prepared to work harder and learn – I just needed to know where I was going wrong.

But nobody could give me any targets – because of course, it doesn’t work like that. And of the many things that I have learnt since I started on this writing journey, this has been the hardest. It isn’t about being better (although I still have a lot to learn about developing my writing technique) and it isn’t about working longer hours. It’s about writing something that you feel passionate about. It’s about writing because you can’t imagine NOT writing. It’s about going back to how it felt in those early days of Dandelion Clocks, when I wrote because I had a story to tell, without any thought of whether it would be published.

I lied at the start of this post. The reason for not posting on here has had nothing to do with being too busy, I know that really. It’s because this is a writer website and over the last year I have doubted whether I had the right to call myself a writer. The difference now is that I’m starting to prepare for this term’s author visits to schools and part of my talk is called Everyone A Writer. I literally say the words ‘being a writer does not have to mean that you have written a best-selling novel.’ So unless I’m prepared to be a huge hypocrite, I need to cop on.

Because I am writing. I have been writing a YA manuscript for months, that keeps me awakes at night. I am telling a story that excites me more than anything else I’ve written. I am involved with my characters in such a way that when a song comes on the radio that makes me think of them, I can think of nothing else. I love this book – and everyone else might hate it. But I have decided that I’m good with that because it’s mine and I’m writing it for me. It’s a luxury, for sure but it’s fun. And yesterday, when I was least expecting it, an idea for a Middle-Grade book floated into my head. I have spent so long trying to come up with a new MG book and nothing has felt right, so during the Christmas holidays I kind of gave up on thinking about it. I finally stopped stressing about being creative and unique and zeitgeist-y (which is a very good thing because nobody needs to read anything written by me when I am pretending that I am a hipster and not a 42 year old mother of three…). And my new idea might grow wings and fly or it might crash and burn. That’s ok. I’ll still be a writer, just like everyone else who uses the written word to communicate.