My journey to amateur writer (part 2)

So it was at the University of Edinburgh that I found out I was stupid. I was studying English Literature and Philosophy though I was more interested in the English and thought Philosophy would be an interesting side issue. It all started well enough and I got merits for first year. My tutor was quite nice. Second year was awful. I got bad marks for every essay however hard I tried and the tutor was unapproachable and unhelpful.  I was probably spending too much time with my first serious boyfriend who dumped me anyway the following year. Due to the bizarre system employed students with marks below 60 % were not allowed to proceed to honours. So I hadn’t failed, couldn’t retake but could not do honours English. So I had to do Philosophy. Though my interest in it was minimal it seemed to come easy to me. I was gutted and internalised my stupidity for a very long time – probably about twenty years. 

On graduating I felt I was too much of a failure to go for a prestigious career like journalism or publishing so I chose teaching and enrolled on a PGCE. So I taught for a very long time in various schools all round the country in both England and Scotland. At times I enjoyed it. The intelligent children with a gift for writing were a joy. They were rare. Mostly it was slog. I started lackadaisically but over time I really threw myself into it and tried to be the best teacher I could be. I did get better but my behaviour management was usually not the best. In fact I worked so hard I gave myself a grade A nervous breakdown and had to give it up. 

During the university and teaching years I hardly wrote apart from diaries and journals. There was no time. I was permanently exhausted and always had work for school to do in the evenings. I still read as much as I could.

My way out of breakdown and depression was to start to write again – fitfully and painfully with huge breaks and then spurts of activity. Pearlcasting was the result – a novella. It took me two years because I didn’t write every day. I had no discipline, no schedule, no plan. I wasn’t sure if it was any good. I sent it off to agents – thirty-two to be exact and to date I have received twelve rejection letters. This leads me to doubt my ability of course like many others before me. 

I noticed on Twitter – a lifeline of connection for me during the dark time – that lots of authors were self-publishing. I took courage and uploaded my book to Amazon with their Kindle Direct Publishing tool. It was an amazingly easy process. I used a formatting guide that I bought on Kindle and the layout worked perfectly. I have only had the book out a couple of weeks and sales have been minimal. I was amazed though that some people who didn’t even know me took the time to write a review. They seemed to have enjoyed it. This gave me much joy. I did a free promotion for five days and many more people downloaded it. So though I made no money at least people were reading my words. 

So I still don’t feel like a proper writer. I am not one of those people who works from 9 to 5 or through the night or some other very worthy writerly habit. I am fitful. I  wish I could have managed a proper book deal like some old university acquaintances have. I feel they are proper writers and I am improper but I have started on the road. I am still an amateur but I have achieved something. 

I have started my second book. Who can know what the future holds? Not me.

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11 thoughts on “My journey to amateur writer (part 2)

  1. Congrats on getting your book out into the world 🙂 That’s the most important part of being a writer, I think. Having that courage to put your work into the hands of others.

  2. Hiya

    Thanks for liking my post on being a full-time writer. Absolutely terrifying, and for some reason I spent an awful lot of time on Facebook and Twitter last week. As Churchill famously once said, “when you’re going through “””” keep going”! You don’t stop and admire the mess.

    Your posting is really honest – I’m from a PGCE/TEFL background and there was simply no time to write. Then I headed into Advice work, but still no time (being a new Mum is also pretty shattering) so I saved and saved and now blog and blog. I also do a spot of reading, too, and I’m off to have a look at Pearlcasting…. 🙂

    Happy Sunday-ing.

    • That’s the beauty of Kindle; people can have a nose at a new book, then buy if they like it, in a matter of minutes. No removal of PJs needed.

      Keep persevering with social media – you have something great to sell!

  3. Just linked your book to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, fingers crossed for your sales – does Amazon let you see how many people download a free sample and then who buys?

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