Practising Writing Gratitude

Two years ago, I hit “publish” on Red Horse, and I thought that was going to be it, all over and done with. The cover was awful, it hadn’t been properly edited or formatted, but it didn’t matter – I’d written it, and I loved it.

And I still love it. I am still more than a little bit in love with Captain Hollie Babbitt (even when he was as mad as Russell) and Lucey still makes me smile and I still cry a bit at the idea of the rain falling on the dead of Edgehill and what Hollie does about it.
(And of course, I thumb my nose at the Palatinate Pest. Always.)

But of late, I’ve started to feel that it’s not – I’m not – enough.

There were a few of us who, so to speak, graduated 1642 together: palled around together on-line, messaged each other, wrote anthologies together. Supported each other. And some of us have gone off and some of us are still ploughing the 1640s furrow and some of us don’t really write at all any more.
It’s not a competition. Reading someone’s review of a 2016 in which some really quite horrid things happened and skipping to where they say what articles they published in what magazine and thinking – I’m going to submit to them.I’m going to do that,like some kind of historical barracuda. (Shiny! Shiny!)

My friend’s book was reviewed in the TLS. Did I think huzzah! Well done? – or did I think how can I do that?
Friends have been Kindle bestsellers, and I wasn’t happy for them, I was looking for ways to copy them instead.
Well, Entertaining Angels was #1 for the better part of a month. Am I proud? Am I happy? No – I’m prowling round looking for ways to carry on promoting it, to keep pushing it beyond its natural shelf life.
Publishing contract? Yes. Wonderful. Now I want another one, a better one. Richard and Judy time. Prime time. More awards. More reviews. More sales. Always more, more, more.

I was chatting to one of my friends earlier. She was impressed that I’d sold something like five thousand copies of Angels in three months. Did I say – thank you? Yes, it is a good little book, isn’t it? No, I dismissed it. Not good enough. It pretty much sells itself.

I had a lovely review of Red Horse over Christmas and it pulled me up, rather.

Five thousand copies of a book in three months, a hundred new followers a day, Times Literary Supplement glowing reviews…they’re all great,aren’t they? But someone laughed out loud at the grumpy exchanges between Hollie Babbitt and Luce Pettitt, and that’s worth just as much. Someone cried over a shy middle-aged intelligence officer’s friendship with a girl, and that’s worth its weight in gold. Someone is talking to me about the Arundells of Trerice as if they’re real, living people, and that’s priceless too.

My success is mine. Your success doesn’t detract from mine, and nor should it add to it, trying to cover myself in a little reflected glory.
Two years ago I would have been happy with that review for its own sake: not for the status, not for the ranking, but because someone liked my book.
And that’s my New Year’s resolution.
I may not write every day. I may not be committed. I may not be professional.
But I will be happier.

5 thoughts on “Practising Writing Gratitude

  1. This really moved me. Being competitive myself I understand too well. I don’t write now – won’t write now – because I can’t sit down and write a bestseller. I don’t want to write mediocre… I want glory!

    But your books summon up the era so well and your characters are to me friends, real people I love and hurt for.

    I hope that helps you a little bit.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I enjoy your stories, all of them that I’ve read. I’ve not quite got to the obsessive stage where I check what I have against your entire output, but I will when I stop doing other things for long enough. I live some of my life in the 17th century, and your books certainly seem real to me. Clearly others think the same.

    So keep at it, and keep it real.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Aw, thanks, guys! I’m not planning to hang up my keyboard any time soon but when I first started out a good review gave me a little tingle. I think when you get to be (ha ha) even moderately successful you start to expect more and more pats on the head. Like small children and pets, ruined by too much attention 😀


  4. What can I say other than I love all your books and have read them several times over, enjoying them every little bit as much as I did the first time. I can so recognise the laughing at the exchanges between Hollie and Lucey, I do so myself. So please keep on writing and publishing – I can’t get enough. I have never read anything like your novels so I treasure them; very much so. You have given me so many hours of pleasure, entertainment and insight into human nature that I can’t begin to think of repaying you. Other than buy your books. The only thing is that Amazon won’t sell Kindles to Denmark so I am cut off from a great many short stories by a great number of authors. Argh!!!

    Susanne – friend and follower of the Palatinate Pest

    Liked by 1 person

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