Feeling Left Behind – The Climb #306

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Feeling Left Behind – The Climb #306

Thursday 23rd November 2017

Today was a busy day with both Physio and gym this morning.  It left me feeling knackered this afternoon (especially as I had to be up super-early this morning after getting back very late from training).

But I’d arranged to go out for a meal this evening with my beta-reader Kate.  We had lots to catch up on, both personal gossip and professional updates.  It seems like ages since we last met up.

One of the things Kate talked about was feeling she’s not made progress.  She’s had a bit of a shit year and it’s meant she’s been unable to move her writing career along as much as she would like.  I’m super proud that she’s managed to keep it ticking along with everything else that’s been going on but she said that she feels a bit left behind.  Sophie seems to be getting loads of illustration work and I’ve turned in my edits.

This feeling isn’t unfamiliar to me and indeed, I feel it a lot.  The Four Realms came out almost 5 years ago.  I’ve spent half that time since working on rewrites for Black As Knight.

When The Four Realms came out, I felt as if I’d finally made it.  I pushed the book hard.  Yeah, it might have come from a small press but I did everything I could to help get it noticed.  And then Leggedon happened and I pretty much found myself back at square one.

There are writers who’ve removed me from their friends on Twitter.  I found that particularly tough.  It felt like the industry telling you that your career was over.  And I watched as they released book after book.  I’ve seen some friends go from newbie writers to international superstars.

I make a point of never getting jealous.  Someone else’s success does not mean I can’t have any of my own.  I’m genuinely excited for them and want to hear about their deals and successes.

But at the same time, there’s that feeling.  It’s the feeling that you’re never going to make it, that in the meritocracy world of publishing, your writing friends now have better friends and no longer need you.  You measure your success by how long it took other people to achieve your personal goals.

It can be disheartening and it can leave you feeling like a failure.

But no two careers are ever the same.  When I started to shop Black as Knight to agents, I looked very carefully at authors who’d started in the small presses and went on to get traditional publishing deals with small well-known publishers.  I saw that as my path.  I thought I’d go on to be published by Solaris or Angry Robot or Titan  (I may still do, and they’re great publishers).  But my point is that I saw other authors with similar starts to me go on and do set things, and thought that was my path.

I submitted to similar agents (same agents in some cases) because in my love for patterns, I felt there was only one way to be a ‘proper’ author.  It was A to B to C and was as simple as that.

It’s not.  No two author’s journeys are the same.  I’d heard that before and always thought it was just a case of someone “doing it wrong” and getting lucky.

But then I got picked up by my agent and I came to the realisation that when it came to agents with histories of making authors and big deals, I was doing far better than almost all of the UK SFF scene.  I’d gone from being behind to being ahead… and yet I didn’t feel ahead.

Indeed the last two and a half years have left me feeling like it was all some big mistake at times, that it’s all going to come crashing down around my ears at some point.  I’ve got a lot better with dealing with the imposter syndrome, but whilst some might see me as ahead, it’s 5 years since I last had a book out and I feel drastically behind.  I feel forgotten and invisible.

It wasn’t until I started reading about successful entrepreneurs, and athletes and music stars that I realised that this was normal.  There’s no such thing as an overnight success.  Most overnight successes have been working their arses off in silence for years.

So I don’t think anyone is ever really behind… because they might be working away in silence on that thing that a huge agent or publisher will pick up and suddenly find themselves massively in front.

Writing isn’t a linear career.  One minute you can feel massively behind, and the next massively in front.  The trick isn’t to be swayed by either, it’s to put your head down and work, because whether other people are doing better than you or not, the only thing that’s going to dictate your success is the writing you produce.

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.

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2017-11-24T21:22:39+01:00November 24th, 2017|Publishing, The Climb, Writing|0 Comments

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