It’s hard to believe it’s 7 weeks since I launched my debut novel, ‘The Sentinel’.
Today I’m giving an update on what I’ve learnt from the process of writing my first full-length novel.
‘The Sentinel’ took the best part of 4 years to write and polish to the place where I felt I was ready to publish – but the bigger part of this dream, the writing, editing, agonising, refining, and finishing a book part – has taken a lifetime!
Like many authors I’ve wanted to write since I was a child. I filled exercise books with imaginary worlds. I remember playing with my Dad’s chess set and using the pieces to make up stories of princesses and rescues and battles, and I remember an overgrown garden in one of our houses which became a secret world entered only by the twist of a magical crystal ball (some hapless playmate’s snow globe).
Later I put this dream into action. I won a local writing competition (the Mary Grant Bruce Short Story Award for Children’s Literature) and this gave me confidence to pursue writing on a formal level by completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Professional Writing in Canberra.
Somehow though I got derailed from the dream of writing a book through life circumstances, self-doubt and numerous rejections. I kept writing but it became a more haphazard occupation and somewhere along the way I lost the joy of writing itself.
Writing I realised, is a skittish creature, put too much pressure on it to perform and it flees. What I needed was to rekindle what had made me love writing in the first place.
Once I remembered to write for the fun of it, I relaxed and did just that. I wrote a memoir, a few short stories and a middle-grade children’s novel and then I wrote ‘The Sentinel’. I did it just for me, and just because I could.
Since publication I’ve felt rising pressure; the pressure to perform. What I mean by this is the pressure to continually promote the book and the pressure to write more to continue the momentum I’ve gained.
But I feel like I’m falling into the trap again; the trap where these pressures sap the fun out of writing.
So I’m going to take this time over the festive period to recoup and reflect. I need to continue to support my book but I also want to remember why I write; to tell a story, to reveal character, to let my imagination fly and, most of all, to enjoy the process of writing itself.
I have some exciting projects I’m working on: the launch of my middle-grade fiction novel, ‘The Cloud Captains’; and my brand new newsletter and some subscription offers.
But I’ll make sure I’m enjoying the most important part – the writing!
Until then, stay safe