“I love following up and coming writers, writers who make it,” said an aspiring author to me recently.
It took me a moment to realise she was talking about me.
I paused, not quite knowing what to say.
She thought I had made it. Had I?
I signed a one book publishing deal with UK digital publisher Bombshell Books in June 2017. I’d been researching and writing seriously since 2014 and even though the period between finishing the book and signing my contract was about a calendar year, the whole process felt like a lifetime.
I had learned so much in that short timeframe. Skills around my writing, editing, plot, structure, necessary basics that make a decent novel. Discipline and grit – how to finish the work, how to keep going when facing into plot corners and characters who won’t do what you’d like them to do.
How the publishing world works – what I needed to do, to be in the right place, in the right time, with my best manuscript forward. How to face rejection – tons of it, the silent type, where you don’t even know you’ve been rejected and are still waking each day in hope.
Patience. With myself, with my agent, with editors, with the people who will work to make your book the best it can be. I grew and birthed my second child in the time I waited to get my publishing deal. Pregnancy was easier than getting published. Both are draining, require dedication and are filled with dreams and hope. I don’t recommend both at the same time though.
I met Carmel Harrington around about the same time I signed with Tracy Brennan of Trace Literary Agency. “If I could offer any advice,” she said. “It would be that the wheels of the publishing world turn very slowly.”
It stayed with me that advice. I always came back to it when I was feeling particularly low about the whole process. I would offer the same advice to any other aspiring author but I would add that being on submission is something you need to experience for yourself. I can’t tell you what it’s like – you need to go through it, to understand it.
I took two things away from that intense period of writing and editing. One, your first draft will likely bear very little resemblance to the finished, published product – the one you raised a glass to and perhaps, like me, even shed a tear to. And two, you need to be prepared to dump your writing. Whole chunks of it – chapters that took you weeks, but add nothing to the story. Bye bye, into the bin, better book. It’s horrible. And at the same time, satisfying. Like a decluttering. A shedding of an old writer’s skin.
I too, love following other writers’ journeys. I’ve been doing it for years now. Reading about their inspiration, about their writing routine, how they got an agent, how they got that mecca of a publishing deal. I even started a series about it on my LadyNicci blog and interviewed 50 different writers on their experiences.
That’s why it was so strange that someone would think it about me. That someone would look at my own book coming out and think – I’d like to do that, to be like her, to get published.
But why wouldn’t they, I suppose? I finished the book. I got the contract. I’m having the launch.
It’s a strange feeling, becoming what you wished for. Achieving your dreams. ‘Making it.’
Since signing, I have switched into a different type of work mode. Marketing. Publicity. Proof edits. None of it is as satisfying as sitting down to write a whole chapter from my head. I miss the imagination, the routine, the expressionism. I fear that by the time I get back to it, I’ll have forgotten how to write – that my ideas will be gone.
I worry that the sales of my first novel will disappoint – that my publisher will be put off, that readers will put me into a genre box or leave bad reviews or publicly state in a Facebook group how awful my writing is.
My fears around never getting published have morphed into fears of never getting published again. It’s the human condition.
I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I’ve ‘made’ it. I’ll simply set new goals, new achievables, new targets to reach to and attain. I feel like I’m only at the beginning, that I’ve just passed step one. So much is new – there’s so much to learn – and all the while book two is tugging at me, nudging me, niggling away at my side like a stitch.
I can’t remember what I said to the aspiring author who said those words to me. I mumbled and then asked her about her own writing, saying something encouraging, anything to deflect from me.
I was embarrassed. And flattered. And proud. And then self-deprecating again.
A true writer, it seems.
(c) Nicola Cassidy
About December Girl:
Molly Thomas is a feisty, independent soul, born on the Winter Solstice. At every stage of her life, she has faced troubles.
As a young woman, her family are evicted from their home at Christmas. Molly swears vengeance on the jealous neighbour and land agent responsible, Flann Montgomery.
Then in 1896, her baby son is taken from his pram. While Molly searches the streets for little Oliver, the police are called but her baby is gone.
Why does trouble seem to follow Molly? And will she ever find out what happened to her child?
December Girl is a tale of family bonds, love, revenge and murder.
Order your copy online here.