On Writing

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There is no denying that learning to be a good writer is hard work, that the idea of ‘writing’ or ‘getting started’ for a writer is sometimes difficult, that getting published is even harder, once published, the hardest work of all commences.  A little like the throes of parenting.  There are no rules and yet so many to break. The birth of the novel, the poetry anthology, your very own creation is what all of us writers secretly wish or work towards. I most certainly did.  And when it happened, the surreal responsibility of my little creation, was just that, surreal, euphoric in moments that caught me unaware.  What happens next?

A lot of self discipline, plugging, networking, self doubt, even though I had the book in my hand, a realisation that I have to move forward, keep writing, keep reading, and most importantly making the time. The publication of ‘Snow Calling’ was almost synonymous with the birth of my daughter.  I remember thinking or panicking about the lack of time I would have to write in the future, if I didn’t get it together and edit all the material I had for this book, then it would never happen. In fact, the imminent birth of my first child threw me into a world which I convinced myself would be a world where I no longer had the luxury of time as I knew it. Subconsciously, she was my deadline.  I always need a deadline.  And I was right.  At first, I wrote and edited frantically in the early hours before she would wake up and learnt that self discipline sometimes outweighs creation.  In the first six months of her existence, I was nurturing my second creation.  I can’t deny that after the publication of ‘Snow Calling’, a blissful ignorance on the reality of being published; skewed my vision on what it means to be a published writer.  It’s hard work. I think as a first time writer, you channel everything into producing your product but without realising that another world beckons.  Selling books is not easy, convincing people to part with their money on poetry, especially poetry, is an art altogether in a category all of its own.  In many ways, it’s a full time job.  Little did I know this.  I don’t mean to sound pessimistic or stupid, should I’ve know this beforehand?  But it’s certainly an important part of the learning process of becoming a writer.  Fundamentally, it shouldn’t deter you from writing, but my advice is to be aware that being published throws you into another world of uncertainty. Will the following book be published? Have I sold enough, proved enough as a writer, is my writing improving?

I feel that once published, you can’t go back, you can’t just sit there in your moment of print, you have to move as quickly as you can.  For me there is more at stake.  There is no point printing, if you don’t go on to print more.  There is more pressure.  And moving quickly with a three year old and a sibling on its way in January is like running in a three legged spoon and egg race.  Not impossible, just learning to do things in a different way.  So as I work on getting ‘Snow Calling’ some ‘air’ time, both second creations are brewing.

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