Today I realized that what I really want to do is write: improve Mad Water, the third installment of my Pearseus epic fantasy series, follow my beta-readers’ excellent and extremely helpful advice, think about how I want to finish my story in the last, yet unwritten, book of the series … Instead, I find myself lost in the minutiae of everyday life, and haven’t written anything in over a week.
I also recognized that I hurried through Mad Water’s end, with an eye at a self-imposed deadline. I have now reminded myself that this is an unacceptable loss of focus: writing is not about promoting my sales, but about doing something I love. Sales will inevitably follow a labor of love – a good book will sell, whereas a mediocre one won’t. I know, it sounds a bit of a cliché and most authors reading this post will probably roll their eyes.
OK, so I do know that there is no assurance that a good book will sell. And there is no certainty that a mediocre one will not; I have seen fantastic books sit on shelves and some really ordinary ones sell like cupcakes. 55 shades of cupcakes, to be precise. With whipped cream.
So, yes, I still don’t know for sure what drives the sales of a book. What I do know is that I want to write something worthy of being read, and sometimes I seem to be forgetting that, as I lose myself into a myriad of other things. Between my day-to-day job, my personal life, my book marketing efforts and my actual writing, it appears that the latter has suffered lately. But there just aren’t enough hours in a day, as I have come to realize!
All this was brought home by a wonderful blog post by Robin Black on the Review Review called 21 things I wish I had known before I started writing. I will not summarize her 21 points: they are all great, so I just invite you to read them on her original post. I promise that they will make absolute sense and most of you will go ‘ah, she is so right!’
I will, however, mention a few sentences that resonate with what I have been feeling lately. First of all:
The best you can do is the best you can do.
My writing has improved because I keep writing, reading, re-writing, correcting etc. I am constantly debating rewriting Pearseus, Year 18 – my first book – as my writing improves. But then I fear that I would like to re-write my second one as well, just to mirror how well I have done on the first … Then, presumably, Mad Water, and The Power of Six, and… OK, you see where this is going. I guess that at some point you have to draw a line and say: that’s enough. I am about to do that, as soon as I finish rewriting Year 18. 🙂
Second: I didn’t even like much of the writing I wanted to emulate.
I couldn’t have put it more eloquently! I used to envy how other people write, but now understand that I envy how this writing reflects on them. They are ‘hip’, ‘edgy’ and ‘interesting’, and I would love for publishers and readers to think the same way about me. But I can’t write in a hip-ppy, edg-y and interesting-y way just to have people love me. I just have to write my way. And apparently, ‘there are more than enough different types of readers out there for us all’, so I shouldn’t despair!
And third: You cannot write the pages you love without writing the pages you hate.
The pages I have written and couldn’t fit anywhere would probably deforest a small Amazonian rain forest if printed out. I have had ideas that just didn’t stick with the general plot, unnecessarily complicated it or didn’t add to the story. Basically, I have composed pages that eventually didn’t work. Knowing what to keep and what to get rid of is a great part of learning to write, and I now appreciate how hating these moments of acute anguish and utter desperation was actually helpful. It made me who I am.
So, I promise myself that from now on, I will concentrate more on writing. Of course, I now have to leave to go to a meeting with a client. And summer is coming; Greece – as you might have guessed – is pretty balmy and wonderful in the summer. Hmm…
#thestruggleisreal … LOL! For the record, I did not roll my eyes, but I did laugh with the mediocre book jab. 😉 I, too, have an extremely busy life. I, too, recognize that my writing has become better as my series is written, but I am actually revisiting book 1. I am not rewriting the whole book, but I know there are areas that need to be revised. I recognize that my books are my brand, and I want to take the time to make them the best they can be. Then again, I have perfectionist issues, so I’m sure that drives me. lol!
Lol – perfectionist issues are the bane of my existence 😀
Write because you enjoy writing, not because you want others to be impressed or sell a bunch of books. Most of us never reach those lofty levels of actually being well known and million copy sellers. We have a story inside us that just needs to be told.
Wise words indeed! Thank you–and apologies for the slow response: WordPress, in its infinite wisdom, placed this in my spam 🙂
I often find a self-imposed deadline, or publishing date, looming ahead actually makes me quit writing. Is it fear of publishing, or fear of the piece being disliked. . .This piece gives me many things to think about! Thank you, Nicholas!
I’m a lot like you. Certain kids of pressure seem to focus me; others, simply throw me off the rails. Thank you for the comment 🙂
“The best you can do is the best you can do.” – I really need to remind myself of this whenever I struggle with writing due to my perfectionism. I also really liked the idea that there are more than enough different kinds of readers for all writers. It may be impossible for everyone to like what I write, but that’s not the point – there ARE plenty of people who could enjoy my writing style. Thanks for this inspiration!
A pleasure! These are both great life lessons, that I’ve had to learn the (very) hard way 🙂
Awesome post! Unfortunately, for all indie writers, if something has to give, it’s the actual writing. I must (and want) to thank tweeps for following me, or retweeting my tweets, I have to blog reviews when I’ve promised them, (I’ve recently been reading 3-4 books a week to keep up, but I won’t blame reading for lack of writing time, as I tend to do it while commuting or in bed) I have to be somewhat visible in social media, and I haven’t even touched work, family and house-keeping time. But just like you, in the midst of all that, if I think of my happy place, it’s me writing the rest of that scene that’s been burning my mind…
I know what you mean! Only too often I’ll jump out of bed in the middle of the night to write down a thought, scaring the crap out of poor Electra! 😀