For the first time since the onset of winter, the sunshine has returned. The warmth and radiance of the outside world shimmers beyond my window. It’s the first time that I have noticed that the nearby oak tree has grown a new green hat. The world seems to have awoken from the long winter hibernation and something deep-rooted within me dreams of sandy beaches and lapping waves.
The reason I’m painting this scene and mood for you is talk about how different life for me as a writer was this time last year. This time last year, I was nursing a broken heart (in the literary sense.) I had seen my book rejected when I had believed that it truly was a great story and I was left wondering just what I could do that would earn my work and my characters the chance they deserved.
Because of my experiences, I wrote a blog on the Wordcloud. A community of writers that I belong to on the Writer’s Workshop. (You can read it here: http://writing-community.writersworkshop.co.uk/magazine/read/from-one-unpub-to-another_6749.html ) Rejection was painful for me not so much because I felt that I shouldn’t be rejected or that I was some literary genius who should get to write what she wanted. No, a bruised ego is part of the learning curve. I was broken hearted because I felt I had let my characters down.
I had failed to tell the story in a way that gave them the credence that they deserve, to have people read and enjoy them like I did but most of all, I felt I had let down the people who had worked so very hard on the book with me. My family had sat and listened, had painstakingly helped me with grammar, glaring plot holes and were as invested in my characters’ fortunes as I was. It hit them too. My mentor from the Wordcloud and editor had been behind me a hundred percent and I felt that by falling, I had let her down too. That somehow, by me not wowing the wardens patrolling the gates, it reflected badly on her.
Now, as you will read in the Cloudie blog, I am a positive soul who has the inner fighting spirit of a ninja warrior. The experience set my sights as though I were about to face a mighty foe. I wanted to write more, had the passion for writing that far outweighed the fear I had of the mighty gatekeepers. They were terrifying, yes, and still are in some ways but what lay beyond them was something that meant more to me.
That is the reason I call myself an author. When everything I had worked on was discarded and torn to pieces by the shadowy might of the patrol, my default inner thought was simply this, ‘Fine, you don’t like that… I’ll write another book, I’ll write a better book. In fact, I’ll write a book so wonderful that it will make my heart sing.’
My focus wasn’t on the gatekeepers, it wasn’t on the promised land that said ‘I’m published.’ Nope, it was on the people at the other end. I wanted my books to become companions to anyone who read them. It’s something I witnessed as a reader through JK Rowling, how a character and his friends could move people to such an extent that Harry became part of their lives, their childhood and their adulthoods. The accolades, money, films and glory are very compelling goals but what drives me as a writer is to become part of people’s lives through my characters.
That’s quite a lofty goal.
Yes, it is but I believe in dreams and hardwork making them a reality. To touch readers with my work however, I had to start writing again. I had take on board all the helpful comments and criticisms and figure out a way to improve.
Looking back, I’m glad that I had the rejection, I’m glad that it stung, I am glad that it sucked to the point that I couldn’t face anyone for days. Why? Because when I started again, I wrote The Empath. I discovered a new character. I discovered another dear friend who taught me how to get through a story in a different way. A character who opened my eyes to different writing techniques and who touched my consciousness in a new and unique way.
Aeron gives me immense pleasure to write, she strolls onto my page and makes me chuckle. To people who don’t see or feel their characters in the way that I do may roll their eyes, perhaps some may think I should spend some time in Serenity Hills, the institution in The Empath. Perhaps they are right, who knows but that rejection made me come up with something better.
So, as the sun bounces off the windscreens of passing cars and I watch the leaves fluttering gently, it reminds me that there is always winter, always darkness and cold but it never conquers completely. Beyond that icy and seemingly endless reign of night, spring waits, ready to burst out and remind you that there is life, there is hope, there is sunlight. Most importantly, it’s a statement that every living soul suffers defeat, fear, doubt and insecurity. Everyone falls but it’s what you decide when you are down there that determines how strong you’ll be when you get back up.