Writing

Travelling hopefully

Welcome to my writing portal.

“… to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

I’ve been labouring over my fiction for the past few years, in which time I’ve completed one novel, more or less completed another one, and started another two. Although it sometimes seem as if I’ve been trying for ages, four or five years isn’t much in the writerly scheme of things.

Becoming a successful published author requires a number of attributes, among them patience and determination. I’ve been getting quite a lot of practice in both of these areas. I initially sent out my first novel to several agents in 2013. The rejections left me feeling demoralised and dispirited, and were almost enough to persuade me to give up. After a while, however, I regained confidence and decided to keep going.

I’m still getting rejections, but they don’t upset me as much as they used to. Perhaps I’m getting used to receiving them. I expect there are rookie writers who submit a novel and strike it lucky straight away, but they must be in a small minority. In my case, the clouds of rejection have produced a number of silver linings.

Having been gifted lots of time to revise and edit my original work, the novel I first sent out three years ago is considerably different from the one I’m sending out now. I’m sure it would benefit from yet more tweaking, but I think it’s significantly better than it was. During times when I felt I could no longer face re-reading my novel, I had a bash at writing short stories and a series of stories for children. I joined a free online short story writing course, which I found enlightening and inspiring. Changing tack like this has proved surprisingly refreshing.

I’ve often read, in general advice to writers, that finding an agent is even more difficult than getting  published. I didn’t understand that until I tried to find an agent myself and discovered how quickly and easily they reject submissions. (I say quickly, but in fact the average rejection time for me has been 26 days between my submission and the agent’s response). I’m still sending out that first novel but I’m trying a different approach, going directly to publishers instead of agents. Only time will tell if it’s a more productive option.

My intention with this blog is to chart my progress towards publication. It may be that I never find a publisher or agent willing to take me on, but I’m only 44 so if I can stay well and alive for a decent length of time I might have half of my life ahead of me. If I’m still trying by the time I reach my 80s, at least I’ll know I’ve given this writing lark my best shot and I can be happy whatever the outcome.

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27 thoughts on “Travelling hopefully

    1. Thank you, Leanne, that’s good to know. I haven’t self-published an e-book but I know someone who has and they told me it was a lot more work than they had been anticipating so I got a bit scared off.

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  1. Best of luck Lorna. You are right, it takes time, patience and perseverance! It took me 5 years to find my publisher (and a lot of rejections) In the meantime I kept revising. The trick is not to give up.

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    1. Thanks, Darlene. I remember you making a comment on my tearoom blog a few years ago about the length of time it takes to get published and I didn’t want to believe it, but of course you were quite right and speaking wisely from experience. I’m doing the same as you did, revising, and keeping on trying, and hopefully I’ll have some success eventually. One thing’s for sure, it definitely won’t happen if I give up.

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    1. Thank you, Chrissy, I’ll have a look at that link. Perhaps it’s easier now than it used to be. You’re right that I am in it for the long haul, so there’s nothing to lose from investigating the e-book route.

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  2. Hi Lorna. You’re absolutely right. It is important to keep going. I’m not sure if this is useful at all, but we have two friends who have gone different ways with the publishing thing. One of them wrote an amazing short story/novella, and has decided to self-publish it (which I think is the way to go with that as he has bigger things he wants to write with the same characters so just wants to get it out there and maybe someone finds it. Our other friend got a deal with a boutique publisher here. Got a book out. But he is still working a day job, and I think quite disillusioned now. So I guess the thing is to never give up, and to do something because you enjoy it as much as because you want to achieve a certain level of success. Says me, who still hasn’t finished that story I told you about ages ago. I think if I ever do, I would go the e-book route. I also would like to read what you have written! 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Trish, I’m most interested to find out about the different routes other people have gone down. I can see a number of benefits of self-publishing an e-book, but one of my concerns about it is the marketing aspect, which I know I find difficult.There are so many e-books, it’s become a very crowded market and I imagine it’s very hard to make a new one stand out from the crowd. Also, like a regular paper book, an e-book needs an attractive, professional-looking cover and in my case that would mean paying someone to produce it. Another thing that puts me off is that I don’t really want to publish it without it having passed through the hands of an editor. I’ve done a lot of editing myself but I’m sure a professional editor would pick up things I’ve missed. I could approach a freelancer editor, but that’s another expense on top of the cover design. I think there must be a lot of people who lose money on self-publishing (I certainly did with the tearoom book, although that was different in that it was a physical object) and having waited this long to find a publisher I’d rather keep trying the traditional route. From my tearoom book experience, I have a good idea of how many copies I could sell through personal contacts, and given the generally low price of e-books I can’t see me doing anything other than making a loss on an e-book. I started reading an e-book novel yesterday which is downloadable for free, and there are thousands of others like it. It’s up to each self-published author how much they want to charge for their books, but if you can get a decent novel for free, why would you fork out for one? You might, if you knew the author, but that wouldn’t account for many sales. I think it’s a bit different with traditional paper books because you can’t generally get them for free, but e-books are so often free that making money selling them must be really difficult. I have much pondering to do…

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  3. Love your new website, Lorna, and I love your spirit as well. Believe in yourself. It feels as if you’ve taken a major step already! I like your choice of quote and it is so true what Stevenson says – it’s the enjoyment of the ‘doing’ as well as the achieving, and one seems to lead to the other. Well done! 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Jo. I do feel as if I’m making progress, albeit more slowly than I would like. I think the important thing for me is to keep writing, getting more practice in, and try to stay determined not to give up. I have the feeling that all this ‘doing’ is taking me closer to the achieving, as you say. If you stick at something long enough you often get what you’re after in the end, so I need to take the long view and not give in to doubts. Easier said than done at times, but if you don’t try you’ll never know what you’re capable of.

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  4. Love your site Lorna… KEEP WRITING! There’s one thing that ALL great writers have in common….(they write)…
    Never give up… some great person said, “most people quit just prior to when they would have been successful.” That’s not you 🙂
    Your are an inspiration and that’s coming from someone 20 years older than you 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Linda, you’re most kind. In the past when I’ve thought of giving up I’ve experienced the fear of that quote. What if I was quitting just before potential success? So far, it’s been a frightening enough possibility to make me keep going. Even if I never find commercial success, not giving up is a sort of success in itself. I think it would be far worse to have those ‘what if’ feelings.

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  5. All it takes to get published is two lucky strikes: one with an agent the other with the acquiring editor of a publishing house. I was a rookie who lucked out. I hope you do too.Try pitching to agents directly at a writer’s conference. Agents and publishing editors take pitches more seriously at a conference than regular queries. That has been my experience. Sending you big hugs and lots of good energy. Shona

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    1. Thanks, Shona. Your success is well deserved, ‘Teatime for the firefly’ is a cracking read. Those two lucky strikes sometimes seem to me almost impossibly out of reach, but I’m sure they’re like any other big hurdle: they seem less daunting after you’ve overcome them. I can see how pitching directly to agents and publishers at a conference would make a more favourable impression than approaching them on paper, but I find it hard to imagine myself doing such a thing. Even attending a writer’s conference seems an alien concept to me, and I suspect there are other shy and retiring writers who feel the same. In a way, I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to attracting the attention necessary for success.

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    1. Thanks, Karen, I’ll keep hoping for that lucky break. I have given up from time to time but for some reason I don’t want to let it beat me. Falling down and getting up is becoming a bit of a hobby.

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  6. Lorna, I wish you all the luck with finding a publisher for your writing. I think you’re right not to give up – as you say, if you do, that will certainly make sure you don’t get published! I also agree that we should write for the love of writing, and not in order to find an audience, though that is surely important as well. I think someone once said, “A writer is someone who can’t not write”. That seems to fit you!

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    1. Thanks, Christine. That’s a good point about writing for the love of it. I would feel lost without the internet now, but it encourages a compulsion to share information that can create a lot of pressure. Writers don’t always need an audience.

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  7. Hi Lorna, you are definitely a gifted words. I’m certain that with time & persistence, you will prevail. It’s always difficult to travel on your own path. I will keep all my hopes for you to achieve your goals soon!

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