New topic this month. I thought I'd talk about some of the best moments I've had as an author in the last few years, and there have been a few really good ones.
My view is that in life, and especially in life as a writer, there are ups and downs, and the downs can be really crushing. That first one star drive by review for example can really knock the stuffing out of you - it did me. Being an author and publishing your books can be a very psychologically traumatic and bruising occupation. Despite what people dream there is no easy ride in this game, and there will be no shortage of pitfalls and pain. Because of that it's important to try and celebrate the good times. If you can't then this game may not be for you.
For me my first best moment was when I finished a book - not published just finished. When I got to the end of a book, wrote the last few sentences, and sudenly thought - this book is done! That was many years ago, the book has never been published since the very next day I decided it was lousy and needed a major rewrite, and so probably doesn't count as a shining success in my litarary career. And yet it is still an awesome triumph to me. It should be for other aspiring writers.
Many people say and even believe they can write a book, and probably most of them can. Making that book of publishable quality and then selling it is another matter. But even of those who can write a book, most if they sat down at a keyboard never would. They might get started, they might write five or ten thousand words, they might even be good words. But to actually write a book, an entire novel, takes more than just some talent and a few thousand words on a screen. It takes bloody minded perserverance. You have to be willing to sacrifice not just a few evenings but probably months and years. To think constantly about it to the exclusion of everything else. To live with your characters and the perils they face. And even dare I suggest it, to turn the telly off from time to time.
To get to the end of a novel and be able to say "it's done" is an achievement. Even if you don't publish and it never goes anywhere else, you have proven to yourself that you can write a novel. That is something you should remember and celebrate.
The next big thing for me was publishing. My first book out was Thief, and by the time it had made it out into the eworld it was already ten years old. Ten years where after doing the rounds of sending off letters and samples to agents and getting nothing back - if I was lucky - it had sat on a computer and basically died. Then along came Amazon, and sudenly the dead was returned to life. Being able to push that button - "publish" - and then a few days later seeing my book out there in the digital world, was a huge thing for me. I suspect it is for everyone. And even though the book has been taken down, re-editted, given a new cover and republished since, it's still a fond memory.
Naturally reviews and sales have had their impact on me as a writer. The first reviews (which were thankfully good) gave me a huge lift. And when my second book Maverick, started selling in significant numbers and reaching top one hundred categories etc, I was on cloud nine. Of course since then I've realised that things don't last. Maverick had a few good months, as in turn have some of my other books, but this is a fast moving journey. With a few exceptions you get only short term glory, and the only way to survive is to write more books. But still the fact that my books have done as well as they have even for a few short months is something to be savoured.
Earlier this year I discover a whole new high - and one I wasn't expecting. Late last year I finally decided to go paperback. To put out my books in a physical medium. Until then I'd been happy with digital alone, and there were significant hurdles involved in turning books into paper for me. It's a whole new learning curve. Still I finally did it and in March I think, I had the first copy of Maverick sitting in my hands. And that moment, standing there, holding my book in my hands and thinking - "This is mine, I did this" - will stay with me for a long time.
So I think that as my writing journey continues I need to hang on to those moments and enjoy them. I think that's the same for all of us who have chosen to take this path in life.