Stop the Meaningless Platitudes

Or I just want to have a realistic conversation

What really makes me cross as an unpublished writer is all the meaningless platitudes people spin you when you find yourself feeling a bit down that your dreams seem very far from becoming reality.

“Never give up.”
“Believe in yourself.”
“I know your book will get published.”
“If you work hard enough it will happen.”

Really? Just working hard guarantees success does it? So if I decide that I quite fancy an Olympic Gold medal, maybe the 100 metre sprint, I just have to train really hard, never give up, belive in myself and that medal is mine. It won’t be. It never will be. No matter how hard I work. No matter how talented I am. No matter how many times I ‘ask the Universe’.

You can’t ignore the facts. And the facts are that unless you know someone in the publishing industry it is almost impossible to get a book published if you are a debut author, let alone for it to be successful. And you can believe in yourself all you like, it will make no difference. Working hard and never giving up will marginally increase your odds but it won’t guarantee success.

I do believe in myself and I know I am a talented writer. If any of you have read my previous blog posts you will know that I gave up my job and lived off a big portion of my savings for four months to get my book written. This was a momentous decision. I had no idea if I would be able to get another job once the book was written and I had a mortgage and two daughters to take care of. But I gave myself a good talking to and asked myself if I truly felt I had the talent to write a good book and the answer was yes. And I believe I have written a really good book. Better than thought I would in fact. But I also know this won’t guarantee the Booker Prize. There are other factors at play here, factors that I can’t control. And despite the book being good, me having a background in PR which means I will be good at selling it, I also know that realistically the chances are still small. I knew that when I took the decision to get the book written and decided to take all those risks to give myself a proper chance. Before I drafted my notice letter I also asked myself the question how I would feel if it didn’t happen. And the answer was that as long as I knew I had tried, that I had dedicated the time and effort to giving it a good go, that would be fine. I would be content to step away if it didn’t happen because I knew the chances were that it wouldn’t.

So when I want to have a sensible conversation about when I should call it a day and accept the fact that it is not going to happen or whether I should invest the mountains of time and emotion on writing another one, don’t get angry with me and tell me I shouldn’t give up and that I should believe in myself. Because I do believe in myself but I also know for sure that sometimes that is not enough.

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4 thoughts on “Stop the Meaningless Platitudes

  1. You’re right, Lindsay – why doesn’t everyone just tell you that you have no chance of getting published and you should just give up? Is that something you would want to hear?
    A recently published author (who as no contacts in the publishing industry whatsoever) told me once that you know when you are a writer because you will write no matter what – without any guarantee of publication or payoff. You write because you can’t bear not to write. I think if writing without publication is making you unhappy, perhaps you shouldn’t write. I really hope you do continue and go onto your next book. There are thousands of authors who got their second book published before their first, learning all the time. And most of them had to fit writing in around jobs, kids, mortgages. But ultimately, it is only for you to decide if writing is something you can’t bear to give up.
    Kate

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    • Hi Kate. Thanks for your comment. It’s not the being unpublished that is making me unhappy, I just get frustrated when it is impossible to have a conversation with someone without hearing things like: ‘Ask the Universe’. I suppose I am a realist. I know what the odds are and I am comfortable with that and understand that the chances of being published are small but that won’t stop me trying. And I am already excited about the next story in my head.

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  2. I’m glad to hear you’re still planning to carry on writing. I think the ‘ask the universe’ brigade are a step too far even for positive thinking! I get the opposite sometimes, though – the distinct impression certain people are waiting for me to give up this writing ‘hobby’…I guess that’s why so many writers are hermits. It may be that with your PR background, self-publishing would be an option, although I know it can involve a lot of hard work and doesn’t always pay. Good luck. Kate

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