Today was one of those bad days when I feel like my work is not going anywhere. After all, what is a writer without a published book? Granted, my writing worries were coupled with financial concerns, hence the distress.
It has been over a year now since I took a break from Engineering to focus on writing. I started off writing as an escape from the humdrum of my life. This was at a period when I was living over three hundred kilometers from my hometown because of a work relocation.
I felt isolated, underappreciated and I was uninspired by my job. It just felt like I was existing for the sake of it; counting down the days. I imagined that I was experiencing the angst of a mid-life crisis, although I was only 28.
I was going to work, doing what was required and coming back home exhausted and sapped of energy, and it seemed of life as well. After work, I didn’t feel like seeing anyone or going anywhere. I just wanted to be alone.
It is at these points that I would ask myself what I was doing and where I was going. I started questioning things I had never thought to question. Did I really want to be an Engineer? Did I want to work for someone or for this particular employer? Was I ever given a choice but to follow this path?
You imagine that your life is on remote control; you are just a cog in a perpetually moving machine; a machine which will sluggishly move by with or without your input. You realise that you are dispensable. But deeper than that, you realise that you could fall off the face of the Earth and no one would notice.
I was on a two year contract with the possibility of renewal, but I knew that I didn’t want to continue with the job. This was very unusual, considering that I was in a country where jobs are very scarce. Whereas most Graduates would have considered me lucky, at best, I felt stuck.
I needed to do something fulfilling; something that would give my life meaning; something that would allow me to fully utilise my talents and thirst for knowledge. I needed to rediscover my passion; not just work for a paycheck, but to be paid to do something that I loved. It is then that I decided to write a book.
I had never been more excited about a project in my life. Check the next post for my initial creative process; how I actually came up with my first book idea and just ran with it – Writer’s Beginnings.
I had found my purpose. It was exciting, more so because I was doing it on my free time whilst I was earning from my job. I was only driven by passion; no worries about publishing, sales or marketing. I only wanted to write something beautiful that would hopefully move all those who read it.
It was also therapeutic. I had something good to look forward to after work and on weekends. It would be a hobby to soften the blow of my dreary job. It would be challenging in a good way. It was exciting to produce something that was not going to be credited to some university or college, something that was not meant to be graded for a certificate, something that was completely original and completely mine.
I was not fixated on making money from my book. My objective was to get as many people to read it, and to hopefully inspire some of them. I wanted to leave something behind to my kids, grand kids, the world. I didn’t want to live and die like I had never existed. I wanted to make a positive impact, to leave a lasting reminder.
But that was then, when I had a cushy job to rely on. Now, I have to think about publishing, marketing and making a living from my work. So far I have one completed manuscript, another almost completed and a couple of other books I am in the process of developing.
But it gets hard sometimes to keep on writing when you have to think about finances, publishing, downsizing your costs, and maybe getting a job. The problem you are trying to eliminate (diminishing finances) hampers you from eliminating it (writer’s blues means you write/ edit less, and who can publish and sell blank paper?).
But trying times also wake us up and have the power to motivate. Instead of fixating on the challenges, focus on the solutions.
I decided on a few things:
- To focus on my writing/ editing and to stop wasting time on frivolous nonsense (social media distractions that offer little benefit).
- To quickly finish editing my latest YA fantasy (which is more publishable than my first book). It may be picked up by a mainstream traditional publisher.
- Look into self-publishing my first sci-fi thriller and its companion novella (which I submitted to local traditional publishers, who I’m sure won’t pick it up).
- Start a blog to sharpen my writing skills and to reach more readers (done!).
If you are a writer, don’t despair. Use the rejection and disappointment as fuel to power your perseverance and focus. The beauty of our time is that anyone can publish a book. Self-publishing awaits all those publisher rejected books. I will be sharing with you how it goes for me. Hopefully, I can motivate someone.