Inspired or In Despair?

Or How Many of Us Are There Out There?

Mslexia. I look forward to it thumping through my letter box once every three months, shaking the foundations of the house with its satisfying heaviness. I know that squashed between those pages is plenty of information about writing, advice on how to craft a synopsis, features about the life of a writer. Useful, interesting, funny, helpful.

But sometimes it can be in my house a fortnight before I am in a sufficiently positive mood to read it. Because what I have discovered with Mslexia, and all the other places I have unearthed to find out about the best ways of writing a book and getting it published, is that there are so many of us out there. Hundreds. Probably thousands of us squirrelling away in studies and summer houses. Making room on dining room tables or hunching on the settee with the keyboard balanced on our laps. I know I should be inspired by this army of writing soldiers, churning out a never ending barrage of words each one of us aiming to hit the target. Each of us urging the others on. Hoping that one of us will breach the defences of the publishing world and blaze a trail for the rest of us.

I know that is how I should feel. Inspired and uplifted. But I don’t. Most of the time it fills me with despair. An energy sapping lethargy. Blimey there are people out there who have published their third novel and I have never heard of them. Are on their fourth book and still looking to get a publisher for their first. Goodness me. Researching this blog I found many many blogs from writers whose writing has never seen the light of day, apart from on their blog. That makes me depressed. With all these people out there fighting to get their book published what chance do I have? It’s like turning up at an exclusive party, knocking on the door to be let in then hearing a polite cough and turning to see hundreds of other hopeful guests in the queue with their party frocks on.

But what if they are not like me? What if they are happy? Perhaps not everyone wants to sit on the train and see someone in the seat opposite reading their book. But the fact that this is what I desire makes reading Mslexia difficult sometimes. I know I am feeling fed up and a little lost when I get home from work, trip over it on the mat and then place it in the basket which houses all my (constantly growing) pile of magazines and newspapers. It can sometimes sit there for two weeks before my optimism returns and I can pick it up.

But I always do eventually. And read it greedily, usually stuffing it in all in one go, winkling out little nuggets which I can use to make my writing better, increase my odds of getting where I want to be. It’s an odd position, pressing your nose against the window and watching the party inside, wondering if you will ever get an invite. For the moment I am Cinderella but rather than sitting my the embers of the fire waiting for my Fairy Godmother to make my dreams come true I am out there with the rest of us hustling, reading things like Mslexia to earn that invitation myself.

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