What It Takes To Be A Writer by Mary Malone
Working in the Central Statistics Office during the day and writing in the evenings and at weekends keeps me pretty busy – and buzzing (I drink far too much coffee!) if I’m honest, I’m not great at sitting around doing nothing – and tapping away on my laptop, creating characters and developing storylines keeps me away from fashion websites and my credit card!
I can’t honestly say I always wanted to write. What I can confirm, however, is my lifelong love of reading and books. As a kid, I scribbled out the author’s name and replaced it with mine…so I guess the illusion of being an author was lurking somewhere in the background. The hard work and graft was never on my agenda….my name on the cover was as far as it went for quite some time.
A 2004 New Year’s resolution, however, changed all that – I wrote a book in 6 months, sent it off to publishers and agents (found the time to research a little into the publishing world between chapters) and waited patiently for the offers of publication to pour through my letter box.
I won’t lie – rejection hurts and is quite bruising to the ego. But copping myself on and re-reading some of the rejection slips, I realised that the news wasn’t all bad. And so, I decided I’d write another book but this time I researched the craft of writing, armed myself with some general rules and guidelines, worked really hard on character and plot development, studied the technique of maintaining tension and walked around the kitchen reading dialogue aloud to make sure it sounded authentic. Once again I packed several submissions into brown envelopes (sprinkled some fairy dust on some of them) and popped them in the post. This time I didn’t take anything for granted, didn’t hang around the phone and didn’t stalk the postman! Instead, I kept myself busy and reworked my manuscript -polishing it and polishing it just in case anyone showed the slightest interest.
When the good news finally arrived in August 2005, I was in a state of shock. Euphoria quickly set in and I told everybody I knew (yes, I’m embarrassed now) that I was going to be a published author! But I had barely taken a sip from my celebratory glass of champagne when panic took hold. What if I couldn’t write another book? What if people bought my book and hated it? The concerns multiplied but at no point did I even consider turning my back on the offer of a 3-title-publishing deal and the opportunity to have my dream come true.
Writing is magical, sitting at your desk, launching into the freedom of make-believe and forgetting reality exists! But there is a price to pay – TV is the first thing to take a back seat but Sky Plus is a godsend and a time always comes (generally a treat for reaching a word-count target!) when I can lounge and watch marathon episodes of The Good Wife or Private Practice!
And spontaneous invites for coffee and chats also have to be refused around deadlines! (A lot of humble pie eaten when I’m free again and returning the invite!!) Luckily, my friends and family are happy to accommodate the erratic pattern of my writing schedule.
And finally my biggest sacrifice is sleep! Late nights, early mornings and the occasional all-nighter cannot be avoided when a deadline is looming or edits need to be turned around in double-quick time!
But to balance the above, I’m invited to speak and participate at numerous events, festivals and ad-hoc occasions and I never know what a week is going to bring…a bit like writing a story really, every chapter has a surprise in store…
And now seven years later, June 2013, I have five published novels sitting on my book shelf and I’m having fun visiting bookshops and chatting to people and hearing their opinion on these ‘made-up’ people!
(c) Mary Malone
Find out more about Mary and her books at her website http://www.marymalone.ie/ or follow her on Twitter @AuthorMalone