My Grandpa used to tell me that there were never any guarantees of success, but there was one sure-fire way to fail, and that was to not try.
It’s good advice, and I’m thankful for that lesson – and many others – that he instilled in me.
What a surprise this morning to realise it has been a year since ‘New Horizons’ was published.
When it launched, I was nervous about how it would be received. People knew me as a poet. Would they be interested in these stories? Would they find them as meaningful and profound as my poems?
It was certainly fitting that these stories are about how people encounter and respond to changes and new situations in their lives. Heaven knows, I was experiencing that for myself at the time.
Since then, it has sold around the world in paperback as well as ebook, and has won the 2017 SIBA Award for Best Short Story collection. It now has a shiny badge on its cover to announce that recognition to the world.
This gave me good reason for positive reflection this morning. There are times when life feels as though it’s at a standstill, or when it feels like I’m not achieving what I want to as a writer.
Yet in the past year, I’ve achieved more than I ever would have thought or dared to imagine twelve months ago:
- Three new poetry collections, all of which have been nominated for awards.
Of those three books, Nova has won awards for 2017 Top Female Author – Poetry, Reality Bites 2017 Best Non-Romance, and the bronze medal for a poetry collection in the 2017 SIBA Awards.
- Two poems in two different themed anthologies, nestled in amongst the work of some incredible writers.
- Two macabre/horror titles.
- Two ‘reinvented’ fairy tales about to be published in a magnificent anthology titled ‘Once Upon A Fabulous Time’, with other stories written by five of the most creative minds I know.
If you’re a writer – published, aspiring, or just for your own enjoyment – be encouraged. You may feel like you’re not achieving much, but you are. You may feel like you’re a small fish in a very large sea, but every small fish has its place and a purpose, too.
If there’s something you feel you’d like to do, or try, but you’re lacking confidence – be encouraged. You will never know what you can do until you try. The only way to find out where any road will take you is to follow it.
My Grandpa used to tell me that there were never any guarantees of success, but there was one sure-fire way to fail, and that was to not try. It’s good advice, and I’m thankful for that lesson – and many others – that he instilled in me.
So here’s to another year and whatever challenges, journeys and victories it brings.
Tonight, an author friend posed this question in a discussion group: Is being a writer just a pipe dream?
She asked this in response to a controversial tweet by Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, last week:
‘English Major = Want Fries With That? Pick something that will give you enough money to write what you want.’ (Follow the link to the full article.)
It’s a thought-provoking question. Can I legitimately call myself a writer or a poet if that’s not my main source of income? Without a doubt, yes!
Authors throughout history have held other jobs to survive while they pursued their writing. I’m just one in a very long list.
In this world, being “just” a writer is the domain of very few.
However, being a writer AND having another job doesn’t mean one is not a writer.
I don’t make enough out of writing to quit my job… far from it… but writing is both my passion and my therapy, so if I can cover my expenses… in my mind, that’s a good outcome.
If my writing helps someone feel that they’re less alone, or less weird, or can better understand someone else’s situation… that’s far more like what I want to achieve, particularly with my poetry.
I’d like to sell more books, sure. But not doing so isn’t going to stop me writing. And it won’t make me any less a writer.
You just wait til I’m dead. (Hopefully not any time soon.)
My poetry will go off the charts then.
Maybe you should buy a signed copy from me while you can.
There are a lot of authors discounting their eBooks to 99 cents or free on Amazon.
I won’t be one of them.
To be quite frank, I believe my work is worth more than that. I believe that is true of most of the authors who discount their work. It’s certainly true of almost every book I’ve been willing to buy. For the record, the ones I haven’t liked were not on Amazon – one was a classic and one was a bestseller.
I fully understand not everyone will buy, read, or be interested in, my books. In the same way, some folks don’t like chocolate or pizza or coffee, and not everyone on the planet is going to like or understand me. I’m cool with that.
Even so, I believe that my work and what I have to say through it, are valuable.
If I discount my book, doesn’t that cheapen my work? Doesn’t that just make it less attractive? Doesn’t that make it seem like I don’t think it’s worth reading?
And really – who else works for free? I’d like to see people try to get a plumber, or doctor, or garbage collector to work for nothing because someone doesn’t feel like paying.
So, I have decided that $2.99 is a fair price for an electronic copy of my latest book, and probably the next one.
It’s less than a cup of coffee. It’s less than a slice of pizza or a sandwich.
I’m worth it, dammit. L’Oréal said so.
Let me introduce you to my books.