Guest Blog by Marie Anne Cope
Many writers say they have been writing since they were a child, that they used to create plays and stories to entertain and amuse their family and friends, that they have never known a life when they didn’t write, that they can’t imagine a life where they don’t write.
This isn’t the case for me, although I completely agree with my last point.
Many writers will tell you that they get up with the lark and write for hours, as this is the time when they are most creative. Others will tell you they share their writing time with the bats and the owls, and that the light of the moon draws their creativity.
This isn’t the case for me.
Writers and tutors will insist that you absolutely HAVE to write every day, that all true writers can write anywhere, at any time, regardless of what else is going on in their life or around them.
This isn’t how I approach writing.
Does this mean that I am not a writer?
The novels and short stories I have penned, all of which are enjoyed by readers worldwide, would suggest that I am very much a writer, an author even, and that I am pretty good at it.
Don’t listen to or take as “gospel” everything these people tell you. You have to find your own path and your own way of working; one that fits with your lifestyle.
Stephen King once said that if you want to be a writer, you need to get used to having few friends and an empty social life.
Now, this is something I can wholeheartedly agree with although, up until this point, I have been trying my best to prove him wrong.
Has it worked?
No. All that has happened is that I have spread myself too thinly, trying to please everyone else except myself – the one person whom I should be pleasing.
Stress, anger, and a constant internal dialogue of rebukes and reprimands.
To focus on my goals, on what’s important to me. True friends will understand.
The thing is, many writers, whether indie or trad, do not have the luxury of being able to write full-time. I run my own, very demanding, business, I live alone and so have a house to run and maintain myself, I teach yoga and writing courses AND, most important of all, I am an author.
I’m not going to lie to you, being an author, especially an indie author, is hard work. It takes commitment, tenacity, drive, determination and, most importantly, it takes self-belief. To be an indie author isn’t just about writing your novel, it’s about mastering the world of publishing and marketing. Yes, you can pay people to do if for you, but I would recommend all indie authors to do it ALL themselves, at least once.
So you can understand the full process, but also so that when you do approach a paid for service, you are more likely to spot the charlatans; the people who actually have no idea what they’re doing, despite telling you the contrary.
My writing journey got off to rather an impotent start, as many of you will already be aware. So, let me take you back to the start of this blog and show you what it’s been like for me.
Have I been writing since I was a child?
No. Reading, yes. Writing, no. I used to devour ten books a week, loving nothing more than to lose myself in a faraway world, solving mysteries or exploring uncharted territory.
As for writing, I didn’t pick up a pen, in the creative sense, until towards the end of my primary school years. I decided to write my own version of a well-known marine tale, one that my innocent mind probably shouldn’t have sneakily watched. To say that my teacher wasn’t amused, was a bit of an understatement. I was rapped on the knuckles with a metal ruler and told never to write anything so horrible again. I tend to think it was my graphic illustration of a severed arm on the beach that drew her fury, rather than my creative penmanship; she is one of my biggest fans now, after all!
Her reaction to my creativity though, halted my writing altogether. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that the voices in my head won out and the stories poured forth.
Do I write every day?
No, I don’t. I write as often as I can, for as long as I can. A demanding business means every day isn’t a given. I work late into the evening, every evening, on writing related matters, most of them not of the storytelling variety. When I am trying to complete a project, I do set my mind to the task and carve out some precious daily space, but I am a realist, with a full and busy life. It isn’t about every day, as far as I am concerned, it’s about as often as your lifestyle allows or, as often as your desire allows.
Can I write anywhere and anytime?
To a certain extent, yes. I write long hand and so I am fairly portable. I also write with Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell III reverberating off my ear drums. However, this doesn’t mean I want to write anywhere. I need calm, not chaos, around me because my peripheral vision is far too curious about who might be watching, to keep me focused completely on my task.
With regards to anytime, then again, to a certain extent, yes. My creativity is not tied to a particular timeslot, but it is dependent on how I am feeling, both physically and mentally. My head needs to be in the right place for me to be able to create what I want to. Anyone who tells you otherwise is, well……spinning you a yarn.
Why did I self-publish?
I had a dream of writing a best-seller and of publishing houses fighting over the rights, and so I set about the task of achieving said dream by searching for the ever elusive agent.
As an aside, getting published is a bit of a chicken and egg game – you need an agent to get published by most publishing houses, yet you need to be published to get an agent…
I did have two publishing credits to my name when I embarked on my expedition in search of an agent – two short stories – and so, I felt confident that it wouldn’t be too hard. How wrong I was.
I lost count of all the non-responses and, instead, focused on the rejections; at least they’d replied. When I looked at the rejections, many had actually taken the time to write a Marie Anne Cope specific rejection and these proved to be, in the main, very positive – they loved my writing, but it just wasn’t what they were looking for at the moment.
Yes, I had been rejected, BUT I had validation that I could write. Instead of focusing on the failure to secure an agent, I chose to focus on the fact that agents (note the plural) said I could write.
I changed tactic and approached smaller publishing houses directly and one of these houses offered me a contract.
I was over the moon, on cloud nine, bouncing up and down with excitement (yes, I am aware of the clichés). I was going to be a published author! My dream was about to come true!
My bubble burst when I was urged to actually read the contract before I signed it. What I read brought my dreams crashing down around me. Not only would they market it solely at their discretion, but they wanted me to contribute several thousand pounds to cover production costs. This sobered me up, I can tell you.
It was during a rather emotional phone call with a fellow author, that I was presented with another option.
‘Why don’t you self-publish, like me,’ my friend said.
‘I don’t know how,’ I said, after a few minutes.
‘I’ll help you,’ he said.
And so, that’s what I did.
Being an indie author suits me perfectly, as I am the one in overall control. I make the decisions and I have to live with the consequences of those decisions – good or bad. Along my journey, I have learned so much about the publishing industry and know more about fonts then I ever thought there was to know. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Does this mean I never want to be trad published?
Not at all. In fact, Bonds has been picked up by a US publisher. What it does mean, is that I am open to options, but will continue to walk my own path.
As I said earlier, it isn’t easy and I’d be lying if I said it was. The most difficult thing about being an indie author, though, isn’t the publishing element, it’s the marketing. To be able to make yourself visible enough to enable the sales to come flowing in, is something I am hugely focused on at the moment.
It takes grit and gumption to be an indie author, but more than anything, it takes self-belief; belief that one day all my hard work will pay off, that I will sell millions of copies of my novels, that I will be a full-time writer, that I will see my stories played out on the silver screen, that my dreams will come true. My tenacity, my drive and my determination will ensure that.
“Dream as if you’ll live forever” James Dean once said and that’s exactly what I do, every day.
“Once you find the beat, you will always walk in time.” (Anon)
About the author
Marie is a dark fantasy and horror writer, a Hatha and Sports Yoga teacher and a self-employed accountant.