And so it begins..

by Ian Clements

Ah, my first post on my first blog.

Self-promotion feels pretty weird, like I’m a budgie that’s put on a high-vis jacket and stepped into a falcon reserve. For years I’ve sat on my stories because I didn’t believe they were ready, or that they were good enough to be paid for. I feel differently about the first now, as for the second I’ll have to let the market judge that as I’m too close to my work. I’m sure any writer reading this will know the dizzying experience of the ‘great/crap’ rollercoaster, in which you can veer between loving and hating your story in one day, often one hour. All the warts stand out to us because we built the thing from the ground up, it can be easy to forget that your average reader doesn’t analyze the way we do and can just relax and get lost in the story. Our profession has one hell of an intimidating history: on one side you have the literary greats which make you like “an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth” ( Kurt Vonnegut ) and on the other you have modern authors who have written themselves into vast fortunes with work that, taken mechanically, is lazy and derivative.

Writers always say we’re in this together but, for me anyway, it can be difficult to be generous to your peers and accepting of big successes when you know the odds. If you stop and think about it for too long then the air starts to feel thin, so I keep bringing myself back to the story.  Put your heart and soul into it then treat it like a product, the product is being rejected not you. That’s the tricky part, of course, because we’d all be writing shopping lists if there wasn’t something of ourselves in every story. I have one sitting here waiting to go to a local writing group tomorrow. Ironically the trickiest thing has not been enduring negative feedback but persuading people that I want and need it. Your friends and family may support your passion but, unless you have some lucky exceptions there, they won’t know how to stab you in the heart the way a good critique can.

Constructively speaking, of course.