The path to publishing my first novel has been a long and winding one, featuring dead-ends, cul-de-sacs and secret passageways. Having achieved a goal I'd spent years working towards, you'd think the result would be one long celebration but it's been more complicated than that.
Yes, there have been lovely, gratifying moments but there’s also been a fair amount of soul-searching. Rather than having reached a final destination where I can rest up and admire the view, I realise now this is a staging post on a continuing journey.
Comparing it to having a baby may seem excessive but although you might think you're prepared, the reality can prove very different to expectations, even a challenge. These tips hope to help you navigate the weird, wild trip.
Taste the Champagne!
Publishing is so completely different to the business of writing it's tempting to think of it as a cruel cosmic joke. The switch from introverted soul who makes things up alone in quiet rooms to entertainer expected to hawk your wares before an audience is an intimidating one. Which is why I spent the weeks leading up to my launch terrified and then pleasantly surprised by how straight-forwardly enjoyable it was. You're celebrating an achievement you've worked long and hard for and here are friends and family to share your happiness so revel in it!
Don't Fret About the Hangover
Our brains aren't good with change. They tend to see it as a threat and so there's some adjusting to do to the momentous shift of having a book out there in the world. It's a level of exposure that can leave you feeling vulnerable, nervously anticipating that one-star review or, on the flip-side, a frustrating lack of attention. It's important not to beat yourself up as ungrateful when you hit the low points but to accept all these complicated, unexpected emotions as adapting to a new experience.
Ask for Help
Don't be afraid to contact writers or creative professionals you've met along the way for advice. We're extremely fortunate in Scotland to have a supportive writing community and I've been struck by the generosity of others in sharing tips such as building up relationships with local bookshops and libraries or using social media to contact bloggers and potential reviewers. Other sources of support are Scottish Book Trust – sign up for their Live Literature Network– and Creative Scotland with their fantastic Creative Opportunities page.
Remember Why You Did It in the First Place
Writing this piece has allowed me to think through the highs and lows of the past few months and go some way to coming to peace with it. It's helped calm the fretting and reminded me that for all the angst, writing can be a solace. To create something that didn't exist before you sat down with your notebook or laptop and to share it with just one other person is one of the bravest, most generous things you can do. So keep on doing it, published or not!
Published by Rymour Books, The Knitting Station is available now.