Fear that you can’t do it, fear that it won’t be as good as you’ve imagined, fear that your mum will read the sex scenes, fear that people will think you’ve got ‘above yourself’, fear that’s it’s all been a complete waste of time (and you needn’t have given up Coronation Street), fear of success.. HOLD ON! ‘Fear of success’?
Funnily enough, last time I met up with my writing buddy, Sally, we talked about this (and got the giggles because it all sounded so silly). But what if you DO write an amazing first novel and you’re snapped up by an agent who sells it to a publisher for a rather respectable sum. What then?
I have to admit (even though I’m a long way from this ever happening..!) that it’s a rather scary thought. Because then, unless you’re going to be a ‘flash in the pan’ or a ‘one hit wonder’, you’d be expected to produce another amazing novel (chances are, if you get a book deal from a traditional publisher, it would be for more than one book). And what if you couldn’t do it? Pressure! And even if you did manage to write another one that wasn’t too awful, that’s it, you’re on the ‘novelist treadmill’, with your publisher wanting ‘more of the same’ and probably sooner than you’d really like.
I would really, really, love to hold in my hands (and stroke!) a physical book – a novel – that I’d written and was proud of.
But when I read the blogs of some published authors, it is a little bit off-putting…
Sam Tonge, for example, has just blogged about ‘The Five Unexpected Consequences of Getting Published’ and revealed not only that it’s ‘hard, hard, hard work’ but that she spends at least half of her working day on networking, social media and promotion. And no, she’s not self-published – that’s just what you’re expected to do these days!
Prolific writer Jane Holland (aka Victoria Lamb, Beth Good – and others!) blogged here about how sometimes ‘being a writer seems like the hardest thing in the world’.
While author Tim Lott says rather than a dream job, life as a writer is a ‘horror film’. Most novelists, he suggests, write because they’re driven to write but if he had the choice to be George Clooney instead – or a taxi driver – he would seriously contemplate it (although, to be fair, when he wrote that column, George Clooney hadn’t just had twin babies. He might not be so keen now!)
And then there’s the money. Forget the JK Rowlings of this world just for a minute. The average advance for a debut novelist is estimated to be less than £7,000. You’re going to have to write an awful lot of books or clinch a fabulous deal, to even think about giving up the day job.