Feeling in control when you’re not


I’ve had an epiphany.  You may get to the end of this and think that I’m incredibly slow on the up-take.  If so, I’ll have to live with your judgement.

This week I’ve had several things swimming round in my head.

  • I went along to Robin Stevens and Non Pratt’s evening on ‘How to be an author’ (which was brilliant btw – if you get the opportunity to go to one of their sessions DO IT). Part of their focus on looking past the publication of your debut was on preserving, or protecting, your mental health.
  • Reading about families where every ‘failure’ is celebrated. Where every sports team they didn’t get picked for, every job they didn’t get is applauded.  Where the only failure is not trying.
  • Wondering how to feel more in control when the situation is out of my control.

The answer it seems is to write.  (I told you it wasn’t rocket science!)  Not necessarily something you aim to publish.  Not necessarily something that will be read by anyone else.  The very act of writing itself has huge benefits for your general outlook on life.  Who knew?  Well, actually I did.  But I didn’t know know it, if you know what I mean.

It is a recognised fact that when querying agents and in slushpile hell, you should ‘write the next one’, when on submission to publishers, you should ‘keep writing’ but the truth is, it is extremely hard to do.  I’ll be honest and say I’ve found it incredibly challenging in the past to write while waiting.

So it’s particularly fantastic for me to realise that perhaps a shift in paradigm and the situation can be redeemed.

If you look at it, more often than not, people’s writing improves book on book.  So if you’re querying and are rejected, you are already on with something better.  If successful, you’ll have a strong book to talk about when asked, ‘and what else are you working on?’  If the amazing publisher considering your manuscript turns round and says ‘this one’s not for us’ you will have a bigger, better, stronger story to work on with your agent.  If when you read that one star review, or that particularly cutting comment, go and work on something that will push you upwards.  See rejections as a challenge.  Collect them.  They prove you’re trying.  See waiting as an opportunity to write something even better.  Writing is the answer.

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