As well as offering editing services to authors, I have started offering coaching sessions as well. Why?
Because trying to get a book written and published is the worst.
You’re so excited by your story. You’re in love with your characters. And then, you start looking for an agent, or a publisher, and your story seems trite, your characters cardboard cut-outs, your plot Swiss cheese.
Before my first book was picked up, there was a period during which I couldn’t even go in to bookstores (formerly my favorite places on earth) because I felt so angry and sad at not having a book on those shelves. I tried to feel happy for friends who were published but, really, I felt murderous. I would read books and think, “Mine’s better,” and feel horrible and judgmental because I felt so bitter about my own book gathering dust. I’m not proud of it. The bitterness, however, stemmed from grief. We write because we want to tell ourselves a story, but also because we want to tell others a story, and continuous rejection of it can feel like continuous rejection of your deepest self.
I’m lucky. My first book was picked up by a big publishing house when I was in my early twenties, and my second a year later. When it came to my third, however, I went through it all over again. Intimidated by the attention, the reviews from strangers, and the pressure to produce something equally impressive, I took far too long to write my third book. My publishers seemed excited about it—they even submitted the opening chapters to the Granta Best of British Writers contest—but, when it came time to submit the finished product, the editors said yes, and the sales team said no. Based on my previous numbers, they just didn’t think it would sell well enough. They wanted a break-out novel, and I just wasn’t there yet.
I fussed and faffed with that book for a further four years. I couldn’t let it go. I felt guilty when I worked on anything else, because I felt like I just had to get this one damn thing right or admit that I was a failure. I had very black-and-white thinking, obviously (which is something we’ll work on if you buy one of my coaching sessions). It took going to a very dark place, changing my life drastically, and losing everything that gave me a sense of safety before I learned to let go of that book and allow myself to start rediscovering my childlike joy and excitement in writing again; the happy self-absorption of telling myself a story without fretting about when and if it would be published, and without dreading What People Would Say. In the past couple of years, I have published two collections of poetry, the first in a children’s series, and a YA novel, and, before the end of this year, I am slated to release another three kids’ books and, possibly, that very same book that was rejected by my publishers in 2012. I feel joy and freedom in my writing again. I am way more productive than I ever imagined being. And I want to help you to do the same, so that my trawl through the Suck will mean you don’t have to trawl through the same level of Suck to get to the happy place in which I am now.
To find out more about my writing coaching services, click here.