Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The thing about writing is...

I know not all writers will agree with this view, but sharing something you've written with the world is hard. No, not brain surgery hard, or rocket science hard, but emotionally hard. You invest time, effort, energy and yourself into something, struggle to find the time and words to get it down on paper, and then have to sit back while others decide whether it's any good.

There's a line in the excellent Black Swan Green by David Mitchell that captures it perfectly. Our protagonist, Jason, has just shown the eccentric Madame Crommelnyck some of his poetry. And this is his reaction.
I felt giddy with importance that my words had captured the attention of this exotic woman. Fear, too. If you show someone something you've written, you give them a sharpened stake, lie down in your coffin and say, "When you're ready."
And that's exactly how it feels, for me at least. Sticking your head up above the parapet in the full expectation of being knocked down.

Publishing Dark Steps was therefore a big thing for me, a literal dark step into uncomfortable and scary territory. So far, the reviews have been kind. And I'm actively searching for book review websites and blogs that will publish a review of my little book. It's hard though - lots won't take what is, effectively, a self-published book. Others are so swamped with submissions that they've temporarily closed their doors. Others will write reviews for money, and I'm definitely not going there. I have a couple of irons in the fire though, so hopefully something will come good. I need publicity, and reviews can only help!

But back to the Black Swan Green quote. I am a one-man band. I don't have someone to prepare artwork, or edit, or proof-read for me. I don't have an intern tweeting on my behalf. I don't have an agent or a publisher or even someone doing my marketing and publicity. I have to do it all myself. This is difficult, and actually impacts on writing time, but more than that, if showing someone something you've written is handing them a stake and lying prone for them, then trying to do your own publicity is forcing a mallet into their free hand. Go on, world, knock yourself out!

The point of this post? I don't know, really. I do know that Black Swan Green is an excellent read, and I'd recommend it to anyone, especially if you were twelve or thirteen around the time of the Falklands War - you'll love the cultural references. Beyond that... well, I've tried all kinds of things to promote Dark Steps, really forcing the mallet and stake into your hands. I haven't had the success yet that I'd hoped for (and I had very modest expectations)... but then I haven't been staked through the heart either. Yet.

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