Everything about being an expectant debut YA author, with an actual publishing deal, was pure magic for me. I loved the editing and the anticipation of seeing the cover of Finding a Voice for the first time. I looked forward to the author visits. I even revelled in the writing of blog posts and the answering of never-ending interview questions.
On launch day, I was ready. I’d spent nearly two years, after signing a deal, preparing to be a published author. I’d done my homework. I was under no illusions that I would be able to instantly drop the day job to write full-time, or that the next books would practically write themselves while I headed off on an international book tour. I knew this is where the work really started.
I was prepared—I had written the second book already. Well, to be honest, I had rewritten the second book three times—not just drafts, but scrap-half-the-words-and-most-of-the-structure-too kind of rewriting. I told myself that it wasn’t meant to be easy though, that I was learning the tough lessons of what it took to be an author. Huh! I had no idea what tough was yet.
The bad news: my publisher said no to the second book. It was the right decision. I knew that in my gut, but it still wasn’t what I wanted to hear. It wasn’t in the plan.
The good news: my first book was nominated for the brand new Bookseller YA Book Prize in 2014. That was a good thing right? Yes, a very good thing. A very exciting thing. But it’s also a bad thing when you need to write a second-actually-third novel, and now the publisher would like that novel today, or even yesterday, if possible. It is kind of distracting to have good news like that. Again, it wasn’t in the plan.
And guess what? I still had the day job, which happened to be particularly demanding at a time when I hadn’t planned on it being so stressful. I just wanted to stop everything and to breathe for a little, but that wasn’t going to happen.
All of my short- and medium-term goals, neatly contemplated during the last two years, started to teeter. What if I couldn’t deliver? The second book had been so difficult, and wrong. Maybe I could only write one novel. Two precious months of my six-month deadline slid away while I panicked and wrote little.
Out of sheer desperation, I took up a friend’s offer of a space above her garage, took off a few days from work, holed up, and determined to make headway. For four days straight, I talked to no one, lived on coffee, chocolate, and wine—and wrote.
It was heaven. At the risk of sounding cliché—but I don’t care, it’s true—I rediscovered the joy of writing for just me, surprised and excited about what was ending up on the page. For the first time in two years, I had moments of writing passages that came from some non-thinking place, where the best story bits hide. You know that feeling, when you read something you wrote and think, “Now how did that paragraph get there?”
None of my preparations for ‘the business of writing’ could have helped me find that again. Sure, I still need to set goals and learn as much as I can, because I am going to stick with this author thing, no matter how hard it gets. The reason I’m going to stick with it though is for the pure joy of losing myself in characters, stories, and words. That is where the real magic is.
(c) Kim Hood
Kim Hood’s second novel, Plain Jane, will be published in Spring 2016 by The O’Brien Press. Check Kim out on writing.ie in our Author Section or on Twitter: @authorkimhood
Kim is also a member of SCBWI Ireland, SCBWI Ireland is the Ireland region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Their membership includes published and prepublished writers and illustrators. The region is run by volunteers led by writer A. Colleen Jones, who is the current Regional Advisor. SCBWI Ireland was established in 2007 by award-winning author Jane Mitchell and Maeve McMahon.
SCBWI Ireland welcomes anyone who lives on the island of Ireland and who has an interest in writing or illustrating stories for children, ranging from picture books to novels for young adults, click the link to find out more!