Tag Archives: being published

T-Minus One Month!

Dears…

It’s the twenty-second of July today, which means – well, nothing special, you might think. (Unless it’s your birthday, in which case – whoop! Happy day!) It’s a Saturday; here in my little patch of Ireland the weather is a battle between sun and cloud, and the sky outside my window right now is a bit like the opening montage of the Simpsons, only without the chaos.

It’s a nice day. It’s an ordinary day. And this day next month – the twenty-second of August – my first book will be published in the United States and Canada by Knopf Books for Young Readers.

eye-front-cover

Cover image for THE EYE OF THE NORTH (Knopf BFYR, 2017), artist Jeff Nentrup.

If you’ll excuse me for a moment – I’ll just be over here, breathing into a paper bag.

.

.

.

Right. Back to it!

My US/Canadian publishers are the same people, incidentally, who publish Philip Pullman in the US, and the same people who publish Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. Sometimes I remember that and I feel a bit sick. Not, of course, that I’m comparing myself to these stellar writers for one hot second – but it is such a dream to have even that tiny thing in common with two people I admire so much. It’s quite a feeling, akin to base-jumping, I’d imagine, only not nearly so dangerous.

Can I admit to something, though? Just between us. At times, much as I hate to admit it, I have to deal with something rather nasty, and that thing is: comparing myself unfavourably to others. My path to publication (which I’m still on, I hurry to point out) has been long and bumpy and winding and filled with false starts and dead ends and switchbacks and disappointments, like most people’s, but there are always those rare few whose debut book deal is announced in a huge fanfare, attracting masses of attention and a six-figure advance, and whose journey seems somehow to be smoother and less fraught than yours. There are authors who seem to be living in a perpetual bubble of sunshine, travelling the world and giving interviews in which they reveal themselves to be not only brilliant writers but also genuinely lovely people, whose books sound like infinitely better versions of yours, and whose reviews are – by and large – glowing.

I am not one of those authors.

I didn’t earn a gigantic book deal. My debut was announced to no fanfare, besides that created within my family. My book is one of thousands, just as likely to sink as it is to swim. I haven’t done any travelling. I have attracted some wonderful reviews, but also many which are negative – and I’m grateful for each and every one. I spend most days trying to carve out a few moments to work while also trying my best to be an attentive, loving parent. It’s not easy, and I don’t always succeed. My real life isn’t like the polished version of success that some authors seem to project – but it’s the words ‘seem to’ that are important here.

Every author has started the same way. We all had an idea, and wrote it down. We all left it alone for a while, puzzling over it, until going back over it with a critical eye. We all mustered up the courage to send it to industry professionals for an evisceration consideration, and we all had the fortitude to wait. (Writing is about waiting almost as much as it’s about putting words down on a page, after all.) We all dealt with rejection in some form and we all rode the rollercoaster of waiting for our debut to be published.

Or, as the marvellous Victoria Schwab put it:

And there you have it. It doesn’t hurt to remember that every writer faces the same track, and that nobody knows what another person is dealing with behind the scenes. None of us have a ‘secret’, and everyone’s journey is largely the same. Some seem to have it easier, but most of that is airbrushing. It does nobody any good to look sideways and compare; it helps only to focus on the ground beneath your own feet, and to stretch out your hands to help those walking beside you when you can.

So, I didn’t earn a million dollars for my first book, and some people do. It’s not a problem. My novel will sit on a shelf beside theirs, all the same.

So, I haven’t written a book which has met with universal acclaim, and some people have. It’s not a problem. I’ve still written a book – and somebody wanted to publish it.

So, I’m not Victoria Schwab, or Neil Gaiman, or Tomi Adeyemi, or Angie Thomas, or China Miéville, or whoever. I may never be a ‘success’, on the same level as writers like these. But I’m a person who had a dream, just as they did; I’m a person who put in the work, just like them. And this day next month my work will sit beside theirs, and my journey to that point is just as valid as anyone else’s.

If you’re just beginning the journey, take heart. It might be hard road, or it might not, but either way I look forward to seeing you at the other end. I have spent twenty-five years trying to get here, and now that there’s only a month left, I wish I’d savoured my trip a bit more instead of wishing I was following someone else’s path.

Four more weeks, people. Thank you all for being here with me. Let’s bring ‘er home.

 

 

 

 

 

…And A Happy New Year

So.

2016 is nearly over (maybe we should bury it at a crossroads with a stake through its heart, though, just in case) and a new year beckons. It’s been an incredibly hard year for some of us; the world has changed, fast, from being a place which felt stable and safe-ish into a tilting, unknowable reality. A disconcerting reversal in world politics seems to be taking us back to a time when words like ‘law’, ‘order’ and ‘right’ develop new and twisted meanings, and the sort of doublespeak which would make Orwell break into a sweat is being used on a daily basis. Long-held associations are breaking. Peace, hard-won, and taken for granted by those who didn’t have to fight for it, is falling apart.

In short, I won’t be sad to see this year pass away.

So many of my heroes started 2016, but didn’t finish it. Each loss has laid me low. Add to that the rest of what this year has brought us – people drowning, in terror, as they attempt to flee the unbearable horror of their homelands; atrocities scarring the world; those in power sitting around and talking while people die – and it seems clear that humanity has become harder, less compassionate, more selfish, liable to gloat in its own privilege at those who suffer unimaginable oppression. Or, more accurately, this has been the case for some time, but 2016 brought it to light in all its ugliness. It’s been hard for those who suffer with mental health issues, and it’s a scary time for everyone – even, though they’d be the last to see or admit it, those who think they’re ‘right’, in the old and the terrifying new senses of the word.

But 2017 is about to dawn, and it’s a year when art and creativity and expression will be even more important than ever. It’s the year in which I will go from being a person to being a published person. It’s the year in which my voice, small and reedy as it is, will join the chorus calling for peace, the reining-in of those who seek their own goals at the expense of everyone else’s, and the protection of our natural world. It’s a year when those who write for children will find their jobs even more relevant.

So. It’s time for some resolutions.

My child is growing older now, and the mental molasses of early motherhood is behind me. Days are still long and hard; I don’t get a lot of time. But I resolve, in the coming year:

  1. To blog at least once a week, about writerly things and books I have loved and news about the release of THE EYE OF THE NORTH and – let’s hope – positive things going on in the world;
  2. To finish the book I’m currently working on, which I have plotted out but simply haven’t managed to haul beyond 23,000 words;
  3. To catch up on the blogs of those I follow, because I feel terribly out of touch;
  4. To stay positive and fight the good fight, in whatever form is necessary.

And, of course, to do my utmost to be the best person and citizen I can be.

I hope you’re all looking forward to the onset of a new year, and that 2017 will bring you all joy, peace and prosperity – and that you’ll feel equipped to share your good fortune with your fellow human beings. Let’s all be a light this year, shining in whatever way we can. Let’s read and write and sing and dance and be happy, and let’s stretch out a hand to the person beside us – or to people across the world – and bring them forward with us. Let’s fight selfishness and small-mindedness and the fear that goes with them by being open and generous and kind. Let’s share stories. Let’s celebrate our common humanity.

And let’s make like Captain von Trapp.

captain-von-trapp

Image source: zebratigerfish.blogspot.com