‘Whatever the struggle – continue the climb – it may only be one step to the summit.’
This is a quote I keep over my desk – because blimey it’s so true of writing.
The road to success is littered with rejection slips as we all know. I could paper St Paul’s Cathedral with mine! I still get dozens. Yet I had my first short story acceptance letter in 1987 – I can’t believe that was almost 30 years ago and I had no idea back then that it would one day be my career. Not just my career, but also one of the best things in my life. My raison d’être if you like and yes it really is that important.
I’m writing this on the train. I’m about to go and meet my agent, my new publisher and my publicist for lunch. I’ve just been signed by a major publisher, Quercus, who are owned by Hachette. In the interests of being ‘cool’ I was going to try and pretend this isn’t as exciting as it sounds, but I can’t because it wouldn’t be true. I have dreamed of this day happening for thirty years.
To be signed with a big publisher was, and always has been, my number one goal.
I have four novels out there, several books on writing, ten or so novellas, even a memoir about a dog, oh and a fair few short stories too. I’ve been making a living from writing for 16 years. It’s been hard work. According to Malcolm Gladwell you have to practice a craft for 10,000 hours before you can become a master of it. I’ve certainly done that. But for many years my number one goal eluded me.
So how did it come about?
Earlier this year my first agent, Judith Murdoch got in touch. I’d just sent her another manuscript.
“Not this one,” she said on the phone, “but I’ve got a proposition for you. One of my editors is looking for a writer. Can you write to order?”
“I can do backward somersaults at the same time if they like?” I said.
I wrote a sample chapter.
They loved it.
I wrote the rest of the novel – or as it turned out, three linked novellas.
They loved them.
So here I am on the train to London.
Was it luck? Was I just in the right place at the right time?
Yes, a little bit of luck, I think. But it wouldn’t have happened if I’ve ever given up trying. Would it? So that’s my very top tip for writers.
Never Give Up. Whatever the struggle, continue the climb, it may be only one step to the summit
Lunch was brilliant by the way. Nothing beats a publisher quoting scenes from your book that made them laugh. The penne arrabiata was nice too!
The novellas that I wrote will be published under the overall title of The Reading Group. The first three, January, February and March will be out on 1 December 2016. They are available for pre order now. But if you’d like to get a little better acquainted with the characters before deciding whether to buy then why not download the FREE short story (December) and see what you think.
Here are the first three covers. So far there are six in the series. I think they’re beautiful. What do you think?