I remember being that fangirl who e-mailed my favourite author about how much I loved their book. I wondered how amazing it must be to write a book and have it out there. I wondered how good they must feel working on their story and editing it. I imagined cosy writing dens, cups of coffee and flowing creativity… then I got my first contract and began the arduous task of reworking and editing my story. Well, needless to say, I discovered that none of it is as glamorous as it appears.
A few weekends ago was a perfect example: I live in Durban where the weather is beautiful all year round. That Saturday the sun was shining and my kids went off to do a trail walk with my parents. My husband worked most of the morning in the garden. And I sat alone inside, doing the hard work of editing. In my pajamas. How very not glamorous.
I’m not complaining. I do love this work. This editing process has felt like the final sanding of a carving before I send it off to be polished. I know the end result will be beautiful, so the work doesn’t bother me. But it’s not glamorous – not by any stretch of the imagination.
And most of the work a writer does is unglamorous. There is one book launch per book where you might dress up and have a party – the rest of the time is storytelling and work.
Would I prefer to do anything else? No way. We all have to work at something and I would far rather work at this than anything else on the planet.
So new writers out there, get rid of those romantic notions of the writing world. It is what it is, the hard work of dream-mongering and story-making. You’re either made for it (in which case, you don’t care about the hard work) or you aren’t. You’ll know soon enough.
If you are made for it, I only have one piece of advice: keep writing.
Why? Because it pays off.
In a few weeks I will be holding the fruit of my labour – my book. I’m sure all that hard work will pale in comparison to that.
So do it. Keep writing. And let me know about your successes – however ‘little’ you think it is.
P.S Later in the week I will be revealing the cover to my imminent book! Watch this space!