Slay your demons with a pen.

We all have dreams. For a writer the dream is a publishing deal. Even in today’s world of self-publishing. There is a sense of well, you know really that is a form vanity publishing. You are not a real writer or a good writer unless you have a publishing deal.
One of the routes to publishing houses is by being a sheer genius and being spotted sitting under a tree with your manuscript. A publisher is drawn like a magnet to you and hey voila you’re up there with J K Rowling, Stephen King, Lee Childs. Anon
Well no because of course in our heads as a writer we are all genius’s. And even the most astute of editors will find it tricky to see your halo among all the other halos on display out there.
And then there is the route of Literary Agent. But again, this is not a case of someone just recognising your talent. How do we the little aspiring writers even get ourselves on the next step to publishing?
When I was young. I like many young girls wanted to be Jo March from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. The tomboyish, hot tempered, honest, book worm who eventually gets published. But writing was not my only dream back then. I wanted to be a vet.
But I read so many books that eventually it became a natural aspiration to write in some shape or form. Journalist/Travel Writer/Author.
I achieved a small amount of success over the years. But the published author tag alluded me like it did many writers.
I was never going to write the best-selling novel that would make me rich and famous. But to be fair that was never my aim. When I wrote my first book Jewish Days Arab Nights it was not for fame or glory. I wanted to write about a situation in a country I visited that affected me strongly enough that the plight of the Palestinians has stayed with me through my life since that first trip in 1987.
But it’s not a subject that sells books not works of fiction. And that is what I wrote, a work of fiction. The blurb on the back cover says it all – Israel 1987 “…… Fresh off a plane from England a young girl, Fiona, arrives to work on a Kibbutz, romantically imagining Israel as a biblical land full of orange groves and donkeys. The harsh reality is that she has arrived in a country on the brink of a brutal civil war.”
But it was a book I wanted to write. After a few publishers and one agent showing an interest. I was ultimately rejected. Not on the scale of Stephen King with his first novel Carrie – rejected 30 times. James Patterson 31 times. Marlon James 78 times for his first novel went on to win the Man Booker prize for A Brief History of seven Killings. But I was rejected.
But I wanted my book out there for people who wanted to read a view point on a very emotional unstable situation in a country where the Christian religion was born. And where a controversial political ideology took shape called Zionism.
So, I went down the self-publishing route through create space. And this was for me a huge learning curve. Yes, if you take the word “vanity” then this was vanity publishing. I wanted to be published, but I did not have a publishing deal, I did not have a literary agent to represent me. I just did what many writers do I downloaded my precious manuscript to a space on the internet gave it a title put my name to it. Put a cover designed by a talented young woman with a degree in design on it and waited.
I had absolutely no idea about marketing. Advertising. And even worse selling my self on social media sights. I really had not thought how I was going to, as an absolute nobody get my book out there.
The book considering my ignorance elicited a small amount of interest from work colleagues and friends. The feedback was positive, but reviews were minimal. Of those who loved it they wanted a sequel. And so, I wrote a sequel.
And spent several more years and trips to Israel watching and experiencing the changes in the country. I can safely say I do my research when I write.
As many will know writing is a very solitary habit. I am a solitary person but recognised the importance of interaction with fellow writers. My second writers group lead by the indomitable Elizabeth Kay (author of The Divide) had disbanded and I was at sea trying to communicate with other writers.
I tried a local group in Dorking that met at the Lincoln Arms – The Phoenix Writers Circle but after a few months, work commitments took over and I put all dreams of writing on the back burner again. But the need to write was burning strong and I kept returning to my book Not Quite Gaza.
I wrote. I rewrote. I travelled to Israel and all the countries surrounding it. I was still convinced there was a story for me to write.
I kept going back to the Dorking group. They were all writers of merit and had various styles and genres of writing. But then once again life events caused me to stop going.
In 2018 I had what I can only describe in the Queens word’s my “Annus horribilis”. It happens to us all at some stage in life. That year visited a side of myself that was not good. Did things that I would not want to crow about. Descended almost to the point that I was in the gutter, but at that point I picked myself up. Dusted myself down and moved on. I had my feet in the dirt yes. But I didn’t quite swim in it.
I killed my demons with a pen. All the darkness of my emotions I poured into a book. Into a dark character in to a fictional story with fictional people. Life imitating art. Or art imitating life. Who knows.
What is that famous quote. It is easy to write to just sit at a typewriter and bleed?
From that year of angst an idea was born for a psychological thriller. The Dark Side of the Hill. I played around with the idea not really doing much with it. I went back to the writers group. A change in leadership encouraged me to go back.
One of the joint chairwomen at the Phoenix (Justine John) posted on face book that she had got an agent. I was pleased for her she is a talented writer and I read her first book Gilding the Lily. She has great style.
But if I was honest I was envious too. Here was the chance that we all aspire to a Literary Agent to represent us. But I didn’t feel I was good enough. Could I approach this agent with my work?
The lady I approached was Wendy Yorke and by a very strange quirk of fate she was looking for thriller writers. I had the kernel of a book. I sent it across and she has taken me on her books.
It all sounds so easy doesn’t it? Is it? But of course, that is not true. Again, I would like to say well she has recognised my great talent. But that would be ridiculous and very vain. I am hoping that working with Wendy I am going to step up to be a published writer in the traditional sense.
I am excited about the opportunity. About the prospects I can see and about the new journey I am about to embark upon. I am a traveller this is another journey to another place. I am going to embrace this chance that I have been given. I am going to give it my best.
It has been less then three weeks since I was taken on by Wendy Yorke. Already I have experienced all the emotions of an aspiring writer. I have woken up screaming – I am going to kill you I am going to kill you! I have felt exhilaration, fear doubt, enthusiasm, determination, delusions of grandeur, humility and hope. All the emotions that I have used in the writing of my new thriller. But probably not in the way people think!
Watch this space fellow writers and readers.

One thought on “Slay your demons with a pen.

  1. I’m so very pleased. Your getting an agent is truly marvellous. I have been very distressed by the whole Palestinian situation myself and it’s hard, on some levels, to see a people being so brutally dealt with in broad daylight without any real meaningful response.

    I know being a writer is a difficult thing, and being a writer who is also read a more difficult thing but you have walked the wilderness in many ways and deserve to come back with a winning trophy. Well done you 🙂


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