Over the past few months I have been very busy promoting my new novel “Picking up the Pieces”.
I’ve talked about my book at “Hot Air” the literary festival in Stoke-on-Trent, where I live: set up a Facebook page: sent out a pre-publication news-letter: searched the internet for bloggers who review women’s fiction: given out review copies: talked to everyone and anyone I’ve met and have just invited friends and neighbours to the first of a number of celebratory tea/mini launch at my house at the end of July. (There will be more such events, living room is too small to have everyone at the same time.) There will be coffee, cake and wine, hopefully followed by a few book sales.
Much as I enjoy all this, there are also the moments of panic familiar to all the writers I know about whether their book is good enough to see the light of day, let alone be read by the thousands/millions of readers we are hoping for.
It’s at times like these that I find myself wondering what this compulsion to write is all about. If it’s fame and fortune then that only happens for the lucky few. If it’s connecting with readers, which is vital, then I could simply post my work on this blog and hope that some of you will read and enjoy it. If it’s a way of passing the time, then I would be better off pulling weeds out of my vegetable patch.
Or would I?
For me the reasons why I write are deeply rooted in who I am. Writing for me is how I express my creativity. Left alone on a desert island I would still write, even if I knew for certain that no one would ever see my work, because the process of writing helps me to come to terms with what has happened and is happening in my life. I don’t write autobiography. I’m not always conscious that the themes I choose reflect on recent or past experience, but they do. “Picking up the Pieces” for example was partly inspired by a chance remark in a supermarket, which got me thinking about the problems working women have to face and how the older woman, after a certain age, becomes invisible in our society. News readers on TV, have been replaced by younger women, while men remain firmly in post, whatever their age.
Serious themes for a basically light, holiday read, but that is the way I work, there is always a darker thread to my fiction, as there is in life.
Beyond distilling experience, however, there is another reason for writing and one that is so often forgotten in the race to sell books. I write because I love it. I love the whole process, even when the writing isn’t going well, I can’t find the right word in a sentence, or the right name for a character and have to type NAME or WORD until I can dredge it up from the depths of my subconscious. There are days when I can’t manage more than a paragraph and others when the words flow and flow and it’s hard to stop.
Whatever my state, or the state of my work, there is a basic joy and fulfilment in being a writer, which we should be acknowledging and celebrating.
Accept that and rejections by publishers and agents, poor sales figures, or indifferent reviews won’t matter so much. At the end of the day, you can concentrate on what is truly important and what, in my opinion, keeps a real writer writing.