In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Ego and Belief

  I had a new review a few days ago, of Blood and Gold. The full text is on Amazon, but here's an excerpt;

  "... it read like poetry. The book was painted into my mind's eye... flowing art forms and beautiful people. There has only been one other book like this book, and it was beautiful... a flowing song of beauty. It reads like an elegant thought." (Jennifer Elizabeth Hyndman)

  That, right there, is why I write. I'd like to make money from it, of course, enough to live on. That's incidental: if you want to be rich, don't become a writer, because most of them aren't. But to touch someone, to leave a reader affected by the story, the characters... that's the payoff. That, surely, is what writing is for.

  Stephen King says he was forty before he stopped feeling ashamed of what he wrote. Too many people had told him he was wasting his talent and ought to do something more serious, more worthy and worthwhile. (I'm reading On Writing again at the moment, can you tell?) I expect we've all heard something similar, but I don't understand it. No genre is automatically less valuable than another. All that matters is whether the story is well-told, whether it elicits an emotional response of some kind from the reader. It won't always do so, and when it does it won't always be the one the author aimed at. But sometimes, hopefully quite often, we can hit the mark.

  When we do, maybe we'll get reviews like the one above, which make all the effort worthwhile. It's validation. I read it and think I must be at least tolerably good, I can't be entirely talentless, if I can touch a reader like that.

  We have weak egos, we writers. We need the reinforcement of support, of enthusiasm for what we do and have done. It's hard to believe in yourself and the tale you're writing if people are just bashing your published work, and without belief... I'm sure that thousands of writers quit because they listen to the negative criticism and let it get under their skin. This isn't to say I've had such experiences myself, necessarily, but the positive feedback still matters to me.

  So on I go, into a new year and with plans for it. Probably Troy: A Brand of Fire will be my next published novel, though I'll have to do some work on volume two of the trilogy before I take the plunge. With luck you'll be able to look for the first book around February. I'll keep knocking on the doors of publishers and agents, keep blathering away here in my blog and on other social media, and above all I'll keep writing. I sometimes doubt my own qualities, but I'm not ashamed of what I do, and I intend to keep doing it.

  Meanwhile, best wishes to everyone for Christmas, or whatever mid-winter festival you might be celebrating. Best for the New Year too. Turn the page, and start a new chapter.