23rd June 2017
I worked on the novel until gone 3:30am today.
Part of the reason is that I could. I don’t have the day job tomorrow so I decided to keep going as long as I could. When I got to a question that I felt I needed more than a quick 2 minute break to think about, then I’d go to bed.
But it also needed to be done.
I’ve been reading a lot about entrepreneurship recently and it’s interesting just how many parallels there are to writing. Now I know myself well enough to know that I’m rubbish at running businesses. It’s not that I can’t do it. It’s just that the accumulation of money isn’t a great driver for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like money and wish I had more of it… but I wouldn’t stay up until 3:30am trying to earn more money in the same way I would to perfect a novel.
For me, this was a deciding factor in whether to aim to be a traditionally published or a self-published author. I still think hybrid is going to become mainstream in the next 5 or so years, and you’ll notice that I experiment with marketing and promotion even more than a lot of indy authors.
But in going the traditional route to publication means I don’t really have to worry about the money aspects. I have an agent who negotiates my deals and I just focus on the writing of the books. That suits me.
And so I’m at my happiest working until 3:30am on improving the novel, on ripping it apart and stressing that I’ve broken it in doing so. I get an immense sense of accomplishment having done so.
In doing that there has been a lot of sacrifice. I’m years behind on TV series, I wish I had more time to read. I’ll miss nights out with friends in order to work.
Most of my friends understand. My day job has an element of On Call, which I will often take for the simple fact that I’m being paid to be near a computer in case something goes wrong. As much as I grumble when I do get an interruption, it’s money for being where I’m already working. Plus, I don’t get a huge number of callouts and so it’s easy money for effectively staying in and writing.
But people haven’t always been as understanding. People, particularly when I first meet them, try and encourage me to take a night off, say I could do with a break, and make all manners of excuses for me why I really don’t need to be working.
It can be hard to say no. You feel like a bad person. You feel like you are saying that the friendship isn’t worth much. But the truth is it’s work. If you’ve planned to go out weeks in advance then fine, you work that into your schedule, but the fact people think you can suddenly drop things means they don’t understand what you’re trying to do.
Most people will never write a novel. Some might attempt NaNoWriMo’s 50,000 words in a month one November, but they’ll never do the rewriting, the editing, the production and marketing tasks that go into making a novel.
Thankfully, all my friends understand. I even had a close friend text me today to ask about an event in a couple of weeks’ time (yes, I’ll definitely be there… it’s part of my schedule). They’ve seen me turn up to their house for a weekend, armed with a laptop and then spend most of it working in their kitchen. In that way, it’s identical to modern entrepreneurship.
Some friends are amazed at how long I’ve been working on this novel for. There are days I secretly worry I’m far too slow and I need to be able to work at the detail I do with faster speed. Heck, I have so many books in me, I really want to be able to do 3 a year. [Note to self: You’ll find a way eventually]
It can be a lonely journey and I’ve been hearing this a lot with entrepreneurship as well. You do whatever it takes, and that usually means an element of sacrifice. That means not being up to date on TV, on missing nights out with friends. But you keep telling yourself that the end result will be worth it.
You don’t work until 3:30am because of the faith in yourself to succeed. Nobody goes into publishing as a way to get rich. You work because you love it. You work because you want this thing you’ve created to be as a good as possible and you want it to bring joy to other people. You want it because there’s something far greater than money. It’s legacy.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
- Twitter: @figures
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/
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