The whole sabbatical/writing experience was never going to be straightforward. I’m halfway through an arbitrary 6-month self-imposed deadline, and I’ve taken plenty of lessons. Lots of people have asked me how it’s been so far. My response is:
You know when you go on a 2-week relaxing holiday in the sun? You spend the first 4-5 days struggling to wind down from work. The next 4-5 days are spent enjoying the holiday. The final 4-5 days are spent stressing about returning to work. Imagine that over a six-month period. It has taken me 2 months to relax into things. Which means I’m ‘meant’ to be enjoying it right now.
I was under no illusion that all my work would be immediately accepted and fawned upon by publications and anthologies, but it still hurts when you get a ‘Thanks, it was good, but it’s not for us’. The frustrating thing is: why does my mind focus on these two rejections when there’s so much positivity to be thankful for?
My first Kickstarter has nearly doubled its funding target; the reviews it’s received have been incredibly complimentary about my writing. I’ve drafted the second episode which got Chris, the artist, so enthusiastic he sketched the thumbnails in a matter of days. I’ve begun work on another comic story and spoken to a very talented and established artist about whether he’d be interested; he is and is keen to work on the idea. I’m told my first published short-story will be made available at Halloween (a little later than planned, but I’ll still get an invite to the launch party).
I checked how many of my Cyber Security eBooks have been downloaded and it’s surpassed the 800-count internationally. The local library and council are interested in taking my Cyber Security Community idea further to support the local community. This week, I’ve written nearly 8,000 words in 4 days of my novel and have almost finished the script for episode #2 of Undetermined. I have 3 other short-stories submitted for competitions, with a 4th needing a final draft before it’s sent, and a long list of ideas for further stories.
But no, I focus on the rejection of a poem to an anthology, and a short-story to a national magazine (the critique was that the writing was very good; characters, description and setting believable, but that the ending needed more work, and perhaps it was aimed at the wrong audience – hardly scathing).
If anything, the lessons I’ve taken from the rejections are to harden my determination. The priority is getting the first draft of my novel completed, then complete the second draft of a 15,000-word novella. In between, I’ll get the second episode of Undetermined ready (late Autumn, all being well) and hopefully get the other comic idea into a place where it can be published (watch this space).
More importantly, I need to focus on the positivity. The messages of support, the backing of the comic, the positive comments in reviews and rejections, the fact I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to take a complete career break and focus on a dream. Life will always get in the way. Unexpected house moves, illegitimate parking fines, bad rounds of golf… I need to keep an eye on the things I have achieved, rather than those I haven’t.
As always, onwards and upwards.