The strain and stress of writing success

You may have noticed I’ve not been around much this year so far.

I’m sorry for that, though one of my long-suffering friends from Whitehaven told me, whilst back in the UK over Christmas, that he was struggling to keep up with all my posts. I forget that I have two audiences for this blog:

One audience are those who subscribe via email – most of whom are known to me personally and probably don’t follow many blogs (or even any other at all) and so might find two or three posts per week a little much.

The second – and much, much larger group – are the bloggers which follow in the hundreds. Now, in comparison to many of you bloggers, I’m a part-time amateur! I don’t write nearly enough to get the really big viewing hits enjoyed by some of you. But then, that’s not why I write, even though it saddens me to think that if I had time to write more, my hits would go up and more people would be reading about Bangladesh. At the end of the day, that is the main purpose of this blog, when it comes down to it.

So, stuck between a rock and a hard place, I will continue to post on the blog at least once a week and possibly more often than that, but it’s looking more likely now that I’m going to get pretty busy this year with other writings.

In fact, that’s why I haven’t written much so far this year.

I started the beginning of the year getting a book review out requested from an editor and that was followed quickly by an essay for my Masters. Small articles, so no big deal – there’s much bigger to come of both this year.

But then, when I returned to Bangladesh something rather wonderful happened.

I finally met up with a publisher who runs a small publishing company operating from Bangladesh, London and Canada. He is the friend of a friend who told each of us about the other and we passed emails for a few months discussing the possibility of working together.

My family and I arrived in Dhaka in the middle of January and I had lunch with the publisher a couple of days later. The meeting went very well. Not only was he a very nice person face to face, he was also very excited not just about one of my books but both!

He asked to see both my novel (written last July for JulNoWriMo) and the book I have been trying to get finished to self-publish based on my blog posts from this site. As both are about Bangladesh, he was keen to publish them. I promised I would send the scripts within the week via email.

Soon after, we returned to LAMB and it took a day or so to get all the cases unpacked and the whole family settled in. I also came down with a horrible cold which I still have and my left ear, which became blocked whilst still in the UK, still hasn’t cleared (I’m now taking anti-histamines to try and reduce swelling to help it clear). Not a wonderful scenario for concentrating on editing manuscripts.

And boy, did they need editing!

You forget that when you leave some writing alone for a while, somehow it – I don’t know – grows ‘mouldy’. By that I mean that you know when you wrote it that you had just produced a potential Pulitzer. It was word perfect on the first draft. It just could not be improved. That’s why you left it sitting in a folder on your laptop, right? This is your baby and it’s everything you hoped it would be. Nothing more to do until a publisher comes along and recognises the genius.

Yet, when you come to look at it a few months later – as I was now doing – somehow the whole thing has begun to rot. The words have all got mixed up; grammar is appalling; it looks like it has been written by an idiot (or worse – an amateur!). You know, as you read your words that you could not possibly have written them. Someone has been messing around with your files. These are not the same Nobel-prize winning sentences they were four months previously. What happened? One hand is on the phone ready to call the police to report a crime most heinous before sanity makes one last-ditch attempt to reason with your paranoia and get you back to reality.

This was what was happening to me as I looked through the drafts and realised they were just not yet ready to be shown to anyone outside of family and close friends. So began days of frantic editing and re-writing to bring the manuscripts up to, well…not quite ‘scratch’ but at least not likely to mean the publisher will send me an email saying “please don’t waste my time with this inane drivel again.”

So blogging time went out of the window, I’m afraid.

But now the two book drafts have gone to the publisher and it’s all out of my hands. It’s such a relief! Or at least it would be if there wasn’t now a terrible nagging fear that’s niggling away at me.

Most of the stuff you read about how to ‘make it’ in the writing world focuses on the nigh-on impossible task of getting yourself an agent or a publisher ‘from cold’ as it were. You know, as a writer, that you are going to send out proposal after proposal, book draft after draft and see only rejection after rejection in return until you ‘make the break’. Even then, that first book is unlikely to make you a star. You have to keep writing, producing more books. You’re only as good as your latest one and can be dropped much faster than you were picked up if it bombs.

My goal this year was to pick up as much writing work as possible to add to the portfolio and get as many book drafts and proposals written as I could so that when we return to the UK next year I could really start the hard slog of finding someone to publish my work. The more you send out, the more likely someone will recognise you as the next Salman Rushdie, Dan Brown, Stephen King or – God forbid – Mills & Boon writer.

And now it seems I’ve bypassed all that work in one fell swoop.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m insanely excited about this – someone actually wants to publish my book! But at the same time I’m also aware that he hasn’t read it yet and that I, unfortunately, have. In my covering emails I’ve made it clear these drafts are far from the final versions but my nagging fear is that now one or both will be rejected. That’s going to be hard because I’ve had everything going for me: The Publisher came to me; I have his attention; he’s excited about the subject material of the books; he’s met me and likes me; he’s talked about looking at contracts very soon. All that’s needed now is for the manuscripts to be good enough.

That’s the scary bit: good enough.

I’m just going to have to wait and see. Needless to say, whatever happens, followers of kenthinksaloud will be the first to know and either celebrate with me…or commiserate!

Personally, I’m crossing all my fingers and toes for the former except for one digit of each hand so I can carry on typing. After all, even if things go well, there’s always more writing that needs to be done.

The year started all too stressfully, I fear...

The year started all too stressfully, I fear…

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About D K Powell

British freelance journalist, author, writer, editor, musician, educational consultant. I lived with Wifey, Thing I (daughter) & Thing II (son) in Bangladesh for 5-6 years working for an NGO called LAMB. Wifey led the Hospital Rehab department and I used to teach O levels at the school before going full-time as a freelance writer in 2013. Now we're back in the UK learning how to be British again. When not writing or editing, I'm busy trying to complete a Masters degree in Intercultural relations in Asian Contexts and reading way too many books at once. I also drink tea - lots of it.
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14 Responses to The strain and stress of writing success

  1. Audrey Chin says:

    Ken, welcome back. We missed you! This is wonderful news. Don’t stress. Just keep going your usual 2 steps at a time and before you know it, it’ll be on Amazon.

    Like

  2. Ken, this is great news! Good luck to you and I will be keeping fingers crossed… Your description of the the “mouldy” process is so funny, I actually let out a chuckle or two reading your post. If being able to elicit a reaction from the reader is any indication of good writing, I think you have it covered!

    Like

  3. jacqui says:

    Good luck ken…..you can do it…… You’re a natural 🙂

    Like

  4. wellj,welcome back
    best wishes
    doug

    Like

  5. “Good enough”? are you serious?!!!
    Your writing flows like water [to use a greekism!]!
    I’m also keeping fingers crossed [not that I need to though!]
    “break a leg” as they say [or shouldn’t I say that with all the health ordeals you went through last year?!!!!] 🙂 ALL THE BEST!

    Like

  6. Rinth says:

    Best of luck Ken! I really do hope you get positive answers for both of your books and we get to read them soon!

    Like

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