I got some great news recently, and so I called someone who has long been a real hero to me life-wise and they said, “You have to turn to someone and say, ‘Hey, this is a good thing.’”
So hey, this is a good thing.
I’ve been really close to this sort of thing happening before, only to have it all fall over at the last. In the end I wrote a story, and an editor at the publisher I’ve signed with read it and got in touch with me to talk about book ideas and then a couple of weeks of intense anxiety and waiting later and everything was signed and I had an advance in my bank account and an agent who is also my friend and it feels a little bit like a big puzzle piece has been moved around and finally locked in its place inside me.
That story was rejected by a bunch of different places. The book I’m now going to write was also rejected elsewhere. I nearly signed with someone totally different to write a book about rock music. Some of those blows were more crushing than others. One of them left me at one point in tears, trying really hard to just get out of bed. For days.
I’ve had, at times, absolutely no money. There were times when I didn’t have much sanity, either. I was studying writing — such as it can be — at university in my early 20s, and every single thing I ever wrote for the writers’ anthology was rejected. Every thing. The events in the book happened at this time also and I really can’t overemphasise the extent to which they completely derailed my life. I was a fuck-up of extraordinary prowess. I think people’s 20s are difficult enough. They suck, actually. Anyone I come across in my life in their 20s gets a free pass from me for all their idiotic behaviours.
If you’re a writer it’s probably really hard for you to live in a city, just in a basic rent-paying way, at least from time to time. This can be very corrosive to your sense of self. You don’t have to live in a city. You won’t die if you leave. If I still lived in a city my advance would not get me that much time off working in order to write. Now we live in a regional area, taking a year off to actually do the work that I care about is something that is logistically possible. I’m working two jobs this year which will also help with literally buying that time. Working is great. Having a job is a thing to be grateful for, not to resent.
I had always given myself in my head a certain amount of time to try and make a serious dent in a writing career before I would have to give up. This was the allotted time, this year to the end and then out if nothing had happened. I feel like now I’ve made pretty decent headway, I’m happy about where things are. The really, really hard work is what’s about to begin.
And it could all still go away at any minute*. So I’ve worked very hard to ensure that I had a work life outside of writing that I didn’t hate. That I could be happy pursuing an honest wage doing something else. Because the things that have to go right, all the chance encounters and breaks you need to come your way on top of all the work you put into writing? You have no control over them.
Get knocked down, then get back up. Don’t throw your money into a hole paying rent to pursue a lifestyle that someone has sold you as awesome that actually isn’t when you can’t afford to buy dinner.
Don’t be a dick.
Hey, this is a good thing.
*I was just chastised for this. Let’s not think this way.