Sunday, 9 December 2012

surfing the waves of writer angst...

***I've fallen off the list as expected! But I'm leaving this as a reminder of my 15 minutes of 'fame' :)***

I just found out that I'm listed in the top 100 writers of contemporary romance, on Amazon. My name is alongside people like, Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I can't tell you how insane that is. These women are proper writers. Heroes of mine. I own most of their books. And I got to see my novels beside theirs. Of course I know this won't last, so I took a screen shot of it. Then I took a photo of me smiling in front of my computer screen. Then I became frustrated because my screen is too small, so I went to my friend's house and took a picture of me in front of her huge computer screen pointing at the list - and, no, I'm not including it here! And before you all start emailing me - yes, I know how sad this behaviour is!

I've also been getting some lovely mail from people who've read my books. Each one is a surprise and I love every single letter. I keep them all in a folder entitled - "Your writing doesn't stink! (maybe)". Trust me, I need the encouragement. Every writer does. As writers we sit alone in a little room tapping the keyboard and spinning stories in our heads. You make yourself laugh, you make yourself cry, but really, you're never sure whether anything you're writing is worthy of public consumption. It's such a relief to find out that other people enjoy your work. Phew!

Or is it phew? Because now I've discovered a new neurosis. What if I never write anything funny and entertaining again? What if people come to my work expecting to laugh out loud and go away disappointed? It's enough to make your palms sweat. And I know what I'm talking about. I remember spending all my pocket money on a paperback book when I was twelve. It said on the cover: "This is the funniest story you'll ever read". It wasn't. I didn't smile once. So I wrote a letter telling the publisher just that and sent it back to them with the book. I even included helpful suggestions for improving the book. (You can see why my teachers loved me…not!)  I got a lovely letter back from a secretary who told me that she thought the book was funny and maybe I should read Enid Blyton! The point here is - what if people start doing that to me? It's enough to make you pack up your keyboard and take to knitting socks. But I won't. I can't. My head is full of stories and they have to get out. There are characters trying to break free as I write this - it takes an awful lot of energy to keep them contained. It's much more pleasant when they're out on paper and become someone else's problem.

So, as encouraging and wonderful as all of this is - the lists, the letters, the reviews - I think I'm going to put it to one side for a bit and concentrate on getting the next book finished. That way, I won't worry so much that it might be a dud! And when I start to feel all wobbly and wonder if I’m fooling myself with this writing lark, I’ll still have my screen shot to remember my 15 minutes of rankings fame.

p.s. there is a good chance I'll have fallen off the list by the time you read this!

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