Friday, 5 November 2010

Change Management

Can people really change? The pessimists would say no, yet every character arc in every story is based around a character changing in some way. Is this as much of a fantasy as happily ever after?

As usual, the question is prompted by my own state of mind. I want to change, to become not so much a "better" person, as a more content one. Last night, I was struck by the atmosphere at the SCBWI Professional Series event I attended. Four newly published authors, with everything to celebrate, and yet the dominant mood was one of world-weariness (which I may have contributed to). Candy Gourlay specifically commented on the difference in tone between two email groups she subscribes to - one mostly for unpublished authors and the other for published ones. The unpublished group, she said, was full of optimism, but the published group mostly concerned itself with authors moaning.

I've been feeling this shift acutely recently, as my writing moved from offhand hobby to serious work, and I'm sure it has contributed to my low mood of recent months. But how to get past the realisation that all is not rosy in the garden of publishing and enjoy the process? After all, it's not as if I expect to earn a living from writing. Can I not appreciate it for what it is?

I was buoyed up by the outlook of Steve Hartley. This guy is having FUN. Swaggering around in oversized pants and throwing a four-foot bogey at school children. Is that to do with the kind of books he writes, or the kind of guy he is? Or has he just been luckier than some other authors with his agent/editor/publicist? Jon Mayhew was also upbeat about the process and seems to be getting fantastic support at Bloomsbury. And Ellen Renner has just signed up with my agent, so I know that she's safe in Jenny's hands going forward. Oh, and Candy just got nominated for the Carnegie Medal!

I don't want to suggest that any problems the four authors have had are anything cruel or out of the ordinary. Getting published and staying published is plain hard work, pure and simple. Publishing is not a charity devoted to our mental well-being as writers - it demands product and we must supply it. All the authors agreed that they love school visits, which is one of the things I'm really looking forward to as well. But that could be two years away or more - I need to be enjoying as much as I can in the meantime, building my profile reader by reader.

The evening made me reflect that I've been incredibly lucky so far. I have a very supportive agent, am working with a lovely editor and I have you, reading this blog. That's not so bad is it?

Yeah, yeah, I know. Get off Blogger and write the damn book ;-)

Nick.

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