The fulfilment of a long-held dream
Five years ago, in December 2014, I wound up my dog walking business that had enabled me to write part-time, and became a full-time novelist. Delighted by the realisation of my most cherished ambition, I celebrated by touring Thailand and Cambodia for two months. (Those of you who know me well understand how badly I've been bitten by the travel bug!) When I returned, I settled down to my new life, and since then I've written a further three novels and my novella, 'Blackwater Lake'. The latest is 'Silent Winter', a dark story of how the mind responds to solitary confinement. I've enjoyed every minute. No regrets. None at all.
So far I've written and had published seven novels, one novella and a 'how-to' guide for newbie writers. I've also collated three of my titles into a box set, and made them available in audio and paperback formats. Along the way I've signed publishing contracts with Lake Union, Bloodhound Books, and set up my own publishing imprint, Orelia Publishing. I've no plans to stop writing novels any time soon, or to switch genre. I love what I do, and meeting lots of other authors forms a big part of that.
Many people have been very supportive
What have I learned over the last five years? A lot about my fellow humans. I've made big changes, and this can be hard for other people to deal with. In general I've been overwhelmed by the support and encouragement I've received, including from other novelists, but some people have responded negatively. A few have chosen to ignore my new career, others have treated it as a joke - a nice hobby, perhaps, but not something to take seriously. That's a shame, but to be expected - some individuals feel threatened by other people's lifestyle changes. Such reactions have been greatly outweighed by the encouragement I've garnered elsewhere. I've also received wonderful support from unexpected sources, and that's been a pleasant surprise.
Every book is a new challenge
I've also learned a huge amount about writing. I've streamlined my processes, particularly plotting and editing, so they're much more efficient. As for book marketing and promotion, I'm still getting to grips with this area - it's not my natural forte! The geeky side of me has enjoyed setting up my blog and website, as well as getting the hang of the wonderful software that is Scrivener.
I continue to learn more about my particular writing quirks. In common with other novelists, certain motifs often crop up in my fiction - for example, my characters tend to clench their guts a lot in tense situations. (Stay close to a toilet, guys!) I've noticed this with other writers' books; it can be a hard habit to break. I'm working on it...
I'll continue to set myself a new challenge with every novel; so far it's proved both interesting and beneficial. For example, with 'The Second Captive' I explored writing in scenes and using a two-part novel structure. I'd been sceptical before about this, preferring to write in whole chapters, but I discovered I enjoyed that way of working. I'm delighted to report that book won the 'best novel' category in the 2015 Bards and Sages annual awards!
With my next book, I want to plot more deeply than I've ever done before, and see how that affects the editing process. I don't doubt that I'll carry on developing and growing along my writing journey.
It's been a fantastic five years, and I've never regretted my decision to pursue my novel-writing dreams. I shudder to think what I'd be doing now if I hadn't made that change. Life is about learning, growing and expanding, in my opinion, and I want to be doing that until I die.
What do I want to achieve in the next five years?
By 2024, I hope to have at least twelve published titles, and to continue combining writing with my perpetual wanderlust. I'd like to be able to produce my novels more quickly, but I get so hung up on the editing stage it doesn't seem to happen. So maybe I'll content myself with a book a year. Whatever happens, I'm buckling up for an incredible ride! Will you join me?