Resources for Writers
Finding Confidence and Creating Opportunities in Writing by Amanda J Evans
Becoming a published writer is a dream for so many people, but if you struggle with self-confidence, it can be very daunting indeed. My journey to finding confidence is ongoing and I wanted to share it in the hopes that I can encourage and help others along the way.
Growing up with heroes such as Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones, those fearless characters that battled against evil and never gave up, I embraced my dream of becoming a writer. At eight, I wrote my first book, a full copybook, complete with pictures. I remember the elation of seeing it all typed up, and with the confidence and lack of fear that an eight-year-old possesses, I sent it off to Penguin. My first rejection. That of course, didn’t stop my eight-year-old self, but as I grew and matured, reading all the great novels, I began to question everything. The tragic death of my father in 1990 stopped my then thirteen-year-old self from doing anything. My passion for life, for writing, for anything, died with him.
Life has a way of continuing on and so too did mine, but my dream of becoming a writer took a back seat and I went through the daily chores of surviving my grief. Fast forward to the 00’s and the internet and that dream ignited once more. Poetry forums, writing websites, a way of sharing, it was all there and the child inside me, the writer, bloomed once more. I dabbled, sharing poetry online and getting nice feedback, but a deep-rooted fear of rejection had taken root in my being and I was afraid. Afraid that I wasn’t good enough, that my writing would be ridiculed, that I didn’t have the qualifications needed. I hid away leaving my dream as just that – a dream.
Joining a Writing Group and the Page-A-Day Challenge
In 2016, with my children old enough to no longer need me watching over them 24/7, I joined a local writers group. It took almost two months before I had the confidence to even read something out loud. Every week I handed my work over to someone else to read and revelled at listening to my words come alive. The feedback and critique was the push I needed. The fear of rejection was still there and I knew that if it came my dream would be lost forever. I began by sending out a poem and my fingers trembled as I clicked the mouse to read the email notification. Accepted. My first publication and the first step to building my confidence. A lot more poetry submissions followed, some accepted, some rejected, but it became easier.
In July of 2016, our writers group decided to do the Page A Day challenge. You had to commit to writing a page every day for the entire month. I envisaged myself completing a number of short stories that were half started in my To Be Finished Folder. I chose one titled Pirates. I wrote every day and within a week I realised that what I was writing had taken on a life of its own. It became my first novella, Finding Forever. I’d found my joy again and there was no way I was letting it get away from me.
Self-Publishing – A Way To Build Confidence
With a finished 30k novella, the next challenge reared its head – Publication. The lack of confidence and fear of rejection steered me in the direction of self-publishing. It also opened so many doors. I’ll never forget sending my book out to beta readers and the sick feeling in my stomach as emails started to appear in my inbox. I was terrified to open them. I let my husband open the first one and when I saw him smile I knew it was okay. Those first beta readers, and their positive feedback and encouragement was the second step in my journey. I published Finding Forever on the 31st of January 2017.
Save Her Soul, my first full length novel followed in August 2017. This is a paranormal romance. I still felt like a fraud and that I wasn’t qualified to be a writer, but I wanted to share my stories and self-publishing gave me the platform to do just that. It’s hard work but it removed some of my fears.
Anthologies, Awards, and Workshops
Towards the end of 2017, I started attending workshops to learn more about publishing and writing. I wanted to enhance my skills, have someone tell me I was doing it right, and take the next step in the journey. I signed up for an emerging author profile with writing.ie and began taking courses in the Irish Writers Centre and in Northern Ireland. These courses were such an eye opener and to meet real live authors and discover that they are normal everyday people was a shock. They were so supportive and encouraging and I left each and every workshop with a little bit more confidence.
Summer and autumn 2017 will always contain treasured memories. Finding Forever won the Summer Indie Book Award for Best Thriller and Save Her Soul won the silver medal in the Virtual Fantasy Con Award for Best Paranormal. To this day I have no idea who nominated my books, but whoever you are, I am eternally grateful. Having my stories recognised meant so much and even though I found it hard to believe, I was finally starting to accept, that being a writer was what I was meant to do.
After positive reviews for Save Her Soul and winning awards, I was invited to take part in two anthologies, both of which have been published in 2018. This was a huge boost to my confidence. One of these anthologies contained my latest novella, Hear Me Cry. This is a story that is really close to my heart. It’s a retelling of the Irish myth of the Banshee. I wanted to take the horror away and created a story of love and grief, and good and evil, in a fantasy setting. I wanted to get across the message of time and how important it is to tell those you love how you feel. We are never promised tomorrow.
The rights for Hear Me Cry reverted back to me at the end of April and I published it to wonderful reviews on the 16th of May 2018. Hear Me Cry went on to win the Book of the Year Award at the Dublin Writers Conference in June 2018.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that the writing community is very supportive and encouraging. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to move slowly and to do what works for you. You don’t need to be a huge success right away. Taking the time to build my confidence through self-publishing, being a part of anthologies, and taking workshops to enhance my skills has taken me to a place where I am now ready to take the final step in my journey. I am working on a new novel and I plan to submit this one to publishers and agents next year.
This would never have been possible without all the little steps I took along the way and I if you take anything from this article, let it be that even the shyest of writers can find their way. It may take a little longer, but a dream only becomes a reality when you pursue it.
(c) Amanda J Evans
About Hear Me Cry:
A forbidden love, a torturous curse, and a loss so great it destroys.
Isla is a warrior of the Summer Court. She has one mission, to keep humans out of Faery. Kill them on sight. When she inadvertently saves one and triggers the mating bond, her life changes forever.
On the run and hiding from her own people, Isla must protect the one thing she’s been trained to hate. With magic now flowing through her veins, she must learn to control it if she is to survive.
The faery are coming. Her once commander, leads the charge. Will Isla be ready in time? Can she harness her magic and resist the darkness?
As both sides clash, Isla learns that her kind possesses a cruelty she could never have imagined. Her loyalty will be tested. To save the one she loves, she must give up everything, including her life as she knows it.
Find out how the banshee came to exist in this dark fantasy retelling of an old Irish myth.
Order your copy online here.