Or why I do what I do when, in truth life would be a whole lot easier if I gave up this writing lark – I’d certainly get a whole lot more sleep for one!
“Life is hard” or that’s what we tell the kids when they don’t win that race, or when they think someone’s been unkind to them. Life’s hard and it doesn’t get any easier as you get older, we just reinforce that armour plating a bit and learn to ‘man up.’ So why put yourself in the position of perennial stress by trying to achieve something from nothing, for isn’t that what writers are doing? All we have to go on is a blank page and a head full of ideas. We have no other tools to help us or indeed colleagues to share the load. We work alone in isolation with only our thoughts and fears for company.
Traditional published authors of course have it easier when it comes to motivation. They have that pay cheque in the post, a known quantity and not the ad hoc sales page from Amazon that fluctuates more than the price of fuel as the local pumps. They have deadlines set by editors and publishing houses for all sorts of things from first drafts to revisions. They have set publishing dates to aim for and the need to keep their readers on board with the next book. All in all while they may too be sitting in that office tapping away on the keyboard they have people in the wings driving their fingers forward.
For an Indie it’s very different.
- Success: No one knows what the future holds but a debut indie is all the more brave because of it. So they have a manuscript that they’ve invested a huge amount of time on, in my case years with no guarantees that it will be read. It’s a bit like training for the Olympics but with no idea which sport to focus our indeed whether you are good at any sport in the first place. Are we mad or what! And when the success hits… Ideal Girl made it to number 7 in its genre, beating some very well known trad published authors and lingers in the top 100 most of the time – all on an advertising budget of zilch – yes, you heard right. I’m trying to succeed the hard way!
- Control: Indies do have full control, something I like – the downside being there’s only yourself to blame if you don’t get any sales. I choose my titles and take great pleasure in the process. I design all my own covers and have final say on plot issues. I haven’t quite worked out who to invite on to my board of directors but I’m working on it.
- Pride: One of the seven deadly sins but I can’t see anything inherently wrong in taking pride in a job well done, for writing is a job. To have people come up to you and tell you how much they’ve enjoyed your book is an amazing feeling. To have the power to make people both laugh and cry (without telling jokes or indeed having to resort to inflicting physical pain that is) is an honour and gives the kind of buzz felt when you’ve come first in that race. On days like these the words flow off my pen in a tangle of thoughts as there’s nothing like appreciation for stimulating the writer’s brain.
- The Unknown. When a writer tells me they’ve written a book for themselves and aren’t bothered who sees it one word comes to mind, and as this is a clean blog I’m not going to publish it! Yes it’s unlikely I’ll be the next household name, but would I want to be. Can Stephen King or JK Rowland walk down the street without being accosted by all and sundry would be my answer to that argument. But I do think it’s possible to carve a niche for myself and at the moment that’s my main driver. I have a book to finish and lots of distractions along the way to scupper that process not least a rubbish day at work and home commitments to fill the largest diary imaginable. But if I can sort of manage to jot down a few random thoughts each day I’ll soon reach capacity. The main thing is to write a good book and not to beat yourself up along the way if life intervenes at every corner. The book will get finished, maybe not when expected but at least I’m the one cracking the whip….