I’ve just seen a picture from the publishers of my book, quite literally hot off the press, in all its glory.
More than two years of blood, sweat, lies and – almost – tears and I can now touch it (well, once they send me a copy in the post, I can).
Last week I was in Waterstones agreeing some last minute launch event details with them. I went in there today to drop a review copy off and the event poster was up. On May 18, over a hundred friends and family members will be there to see the official launch and it will all have been worth it. Ninety-nine point nine per cent of rejection glossed over completely by these more recent few highs.
Thank goodness I didn’t give up. But how close did I come to doing so?
I’m not going to lie. I thought about it a few times and luckily, the deeper I got, the more determined I became to reach the promised land. But don’t think I wasn’t tempted.
I can vividly recall an email, less than a year in, when the editor who gave me some incredible advice (and whose input I described in an earlier post) said to me words to the effect of ‘think long and hard about whether you want to do this’ after prescribing a number of suggested improvements.
Me being me, read between the lines. She doesn’t think I should, I guessed. This is her subtle attempt to dissuade me from carrying on. She doesn’t have the heart to tell me that I’m never going to make it work, I presumed, so she’s dropping a hint and hoping I’ll get the message.
I emailed her to ask if that was indeed her intention.
It wasn’t. But it wasn’t a hint either. It was an incredibly strong message. What she was really saying was that the book, and me, had a chance but that it was going to be hard work, that would almost certainly take a year or more of my life and would be accompanied with much rejection along the way. I would miss more time with my family, miss some parts of my children growing up, drink far greater than the recommended daily amount of coffee and get a lot more acquainted with my laptop and the corner seat in the coffee shop (probably creating an ass print that made it uncomfortable for others to sit there).
So I had to be sure it was worth all that because even with all that sacrifice, there was still only a small chance of success, absolutely no guarantees and without doubt, more pain ahead. At first I thought it was obvious. But then I thought some more. The few days I spent mulling it over were without doubt some of the most important I spent.
In the end, I developed a mean streak; an ‘I simply refuse to be beaten’ attitude that carried me through. I set my mind on getting a publisher to choose to publish Child Taken. I wasn’t going to give up until they did. But it also made me determined that the book was going to be the best it possibly could be.
Giving in, for any would-be writer, is the elephant on the keyboard. How far are we prepared to go? And is there a point where it just isn’t worth it?
It’s so easy to look back now and be thankful I didn’t stop but questioning whether I should was important in realising that the bar I was aiming for far higher than I’d imagined.
If I hadn’t tackled the question of giving in, I don’t think I’d have gone to the lengths I did to make it work.
Next time: Are We Nearly There Yet? – Part 2