Ah I was all fired up to write this post, but now I’ve labrynthitis, sinusitis and a temperature and everything’s a bit meh. Then again, that’s probably as good a time as any.
The received wisdom about indie publishing is that if you want to earn money you need to write lots and lots of books. Fast. Or you have to be all over the internet like a rash, but a good rash; a warm snuggley comfort blanket, perhaps, rather than a rash. But you have to be there, working on your soft sell marketing techniques 24/7 so that your book sales soar. Alas, it looks like this is true and it’s only the people with the kind of sales skills that Satan, himself would envy and also time, and lots of it, who make a living from self publishing fiction. And the reason that makes me feel a bit meh?
Well, I am a stay at home mum. I will never have the kind of time required to make it out of the self published pond slime. And if I had the remotest skill at selling anything, I’d have scored myself a trad deal by now because the way forward is hybrid. Even though I am cynical and old enough to know that life is never fair, I am pissed off that indie publishing is not the level playing field I hoped. Hence the meh.
However, I did feel better after reading this fabulous article on Chuck Wendig’s blog in which he talks about how long it takes to become a writer. The basic gist being ‘a sod of a long time’. This quote, in particular, I loved:
‘I have been referred to at times as an overnight success, which is true as long as you define “overnight” as “a pube’s width shy of 20 years.”’
The basic gist of his post was that it takes as long as it takes. And I know he’s right, or I wouldn’t have started on this writing malarky. I want to do it, I have to do it and if I can only do it at a speed that makes glaciers look fast so be it. Sure my ‘overnight’ may be 50 years but it’s better than looking back and thinking ‘what if?’ than never having tried at all. Nine years on, I’m sitting here with 4 books under my belt (although I did make my first attempt at the first one when I was 20). I sell less and less of the two that are published each month but I can’t help living in hope. Such is the hopeless optimism of the artist!
Commenting on another post on Chuck Wendig’s blog I encountered two other stay at home Mums who felt exactly the same way as I did. I got chatting on twitter with one of them, Megan Haskell and we came up with the idea of #slowwriters. A support group for people who are ideas rich and time poor, or for people who take a long time to write a book – because not everyone can churn out a book in a month. Sometimes, quality cannot be rushed.
So, if you’re gnashing your teeth with frustration as the snails and tortoises disappear over the horizon, if you sometimes think that there may be fossils that are formed in less time that it takes you to write a book, take heart. Here’s how Megan described #slowwriters – because she does it much better than I can.
‘We’re time-poor, idea-rich individuals with responsibilities that can’t be pushed aside or down-prioritized. As such, we’ve come up with a brilliant, albeit unformed plan. We’re going to create a support group for slow writers, individuals who feel frustrated with their glacial progress and need someone to point out that progress is progress, even if it’s only inches a year.’
Or that, as Chuck Wendig put it, ‘it takes as long as it takes’.
If you are a writer with other commitments, duties, things you cannot put aside that mean your writing only happens slowly you might feel this way too. Would you be interested in taking part in a group like that?