My debut novel, Beauty and the Recluse, was published a year ago today. In some ways it seems only yesterday and in other ways, such a long time ago. All those years of hoping and dreaming that, one day, I would be a published author. And those dreams came true last February. I’m not sure what I thought would suddenly happen or change once I could truly say I was published, but in reality, it certainly wasn’t anything really dramatic.
This last year has been exciting, scary, exhausting, eye-opening, confidence building, confidence draining… all those things and more. I think maybe I had seen being published as an end point, rather than what it actually is, which is just the beginning. I had worked so hard, focussed so hard on getting published, I hadn’t really thought about what came next. I certainly didn’t think it would mean instant success, huge advances, film rights, giving up the day job… that kind of thing. And it’s a good job too, because none of those things have happened.
What has happened is that I now have two books published with Tirgearr Publishing – who continue to believe in my work and who have a wonderfully supportive group of authors we call Team Tirgearrean. My books have met with some lovely lovely reviews from people who have read them books and been touched by the characters in some way. And along the way, I have been supported by a fabulous writing community, a community I didn’t know existed.
I have two books published now, and I’m still learning; learning with each book about the craft of writing, about marketing and publicising not just my books but myself as an author. And I’m also learning about me. I’m learning that it is still early days, that I need to be kind to myself, to give myself time and space; it’s not all going to come together and happen at once. I have a day job, I have a large family (with all the emotional ups and downs that come with that), I have other pulls on my time, other new ventures that I’m tentatively dipping my toe into. I’m no different to anyone else; there are so many of us writers who are coping with the same issues, juggling those same balls and trying to keep them in the air. So, it’s nice to be a part of that community; to know that, while being an author is a solitary business, we are not really alone.
I had a rare ‘date night’ last night as a bit of a belated birthday present. My fiancé (it still feels weird saying that; being a woman of a certain age!) and we went to a country music concert. The weather was foul – a stormy, rainy evening, and one which we felt the full force of as we walked along the sea front to the venue at Bridlington Spa. As I walked into the headwind, pulling my hood close around my face, blinking away the stinging rain, I felt safe and warm and able to consider the storm with a detached perspective. The sea was angrily lashing at the defences and harbour wall, kicking up spray into the night and I watched in fascination as it roiled and boiled with an obvious power and I pitied anyone who might be out in that sea tonight. As we dashed for cover and made it into the spa, I settled back to enjoy the show. It was a tribute show but the singers were fantastic, the songs were well-known crowd pleasers and I enjoyed singing along with the familiar songs that took me back to my childhood when my parents would listen to country music on the radio. Perhaps that was the reason I suddenly found tears pouring from my eyes as I listened to the song, ‘He Stopped Loving her Today’. It took me completely by surprise and I didn’t hear a single word of the next song as I was still trying to pull myself together. I think it reminded me of my dad, who never doubted I would get published one day, but who died before my dream became a reality. He would have been so proud of me, and I miss him every day. And yet, that emotion, stirred by those lyrics and the heartfelt way in which they were sung, reminded me yet again of the power of words.
I’m a writer; I write and words are my tools. When I take that time for myself to do the thing I love, the thing I want to do for the rest of my life, I sit down in front of the laptop and make sure I use those tools to the best of my ability in order to stir that same emotion in my readers.
My debut novel, Beauty and the Recluse, was published a year ago today. I’m still at the beginning of what I am sure will be a long and winding road, but I’m so very excited to see where the rest of this journey takes me.