On Success

When we’re young, we believe in crazy things. I believed, for instance, that I would one day make money by my rudimentary ability to put one word after another and ending it with the correct punctuation mark…most of the time;

And, OK, I did do a little magazine work, for mom-and-baby mags and for young-lonely-men-alone-in-their-room mags, mostly. I am nothing if not flexible. But it took me 40 years to actually get paid regularly for writing. And that was for two years, writing sub-standard marketing copy for companies with business models I barely understood.

It was not something that was going to win me the Booker. Which was, really, what I wanted.

Discouragement came in increments. It was the traditional story of the endless letters of rejection (maybe as many as 5). It was the smell of death in second-hand bookstores – where the dead bodies of stories that had achieved what I longed for – publication! – lay piled up to the ceiling, with no one knowing they had ever lived. It was real life interfering, and me finding out that I didn’t have the true drive to plough on and write night after night after the day job was done and the kids were in bed.

It was falling out of love with the idea of being the next Stephen King, or being the better-known successor to James Herbert or Ramsey Campbell. Eventually, it was learning that, when it came to fiction, I really had nothing to say.

Just as my reading left fantasy and the made-up behind, so my writing seemed to need to become more grounded in fact. And yes, I did (and do) still write. I have this blog. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of it. That’s where 99% of my writing happens now.

My model stopped being Stephen King and became instead David Sedaris. From scary fiction to scary real-life, if you like. Crafting something funny and interesting (or, let’s be honest, one or the other would do) became something I wanted to learn how to do. This is what this blog is for: it’s to give me the space to learn how to write again. But about “real life” rather than the vampires, zombies, and serial killers of my previous efforts.

People around me are starting to get novels published, whether the old-fashioned way through established publishers or the new model of self-publishing digitally. Maybe one day I’ll have enough to say to try the Amazon eBook route. It looks like an adventure, if nothing else. And life adventures make for interesting blog posts.

For now, though, the blog will do. But if you’re a talent spotter for TV writer rooms or if you’re looking for fresh new voices to publish, then I could be persuaded otherwise.


One thought on “On Success

  1. This spoke to me. I was thinking the other day of all the “starts” I have to these small stories, life observations, and written diatribes against what’s happening to a country I love. I was thinking about how I have a blog site that sits collecting the dust of mis- and non-use.

    What really hit me was when you said “Eventually, it was learning that, when it came to fiction, I really had nothing to say”. I used to want to write a novel, weave together words the way Fitzgerald did, tell stories that shone a light on what lives in each of us, exposing our fears, dreams, and hopes (in that order preferably) to ourselves. But I don’t think I have that in me… too much snark?

    Anyway, this spoke to me, thanks for sharing.


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