Life always has its up and downs and, for a writer, the downs can cause extra problems. Dealing with bad times takes energy that drains our creative power so, when they hit, writing often becomes impossible.
The biggest bad time of my life was the death of my son. It took away my first born child, my friend and my main advisor on the book I was writing about special effects. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t concentrate and I most definitely couldn’t write.
This was no time to pretend I could cope so my agent told my editors at Scholastic and they were brilliant. A completely open-ended extension to the deadline took away the pressure and left me time to grieve. Just as importantly, it also gave me time to think.
That’s when I learned that the enforced rest from writing that’s caused by bad times gives us a chance to review what we’re doing and decide where we’re going next. In my case, I eventually went back to writing and finished that book. But I also started a book review website that grew into The Word Pool – a website design business my husband, Steve, and I run together. (You can read the whole story here.)
Last winter, the bad times struck again. My elderly mother hit a health crisis and deteriorated rapidly and finally slipped peacefully away. Luckily there were no deadlines to miss this time as I’d just finished the first draft of my new, unsold novel. But, with a large part of my brain pre-occupied with Mum, writing anything new was out of the question. So through those difficult months, I did what I’d learned I could do before. I thought about where I wanted to go next.
I was already fascinated by the arrival of ebooks and the resulting upheaval in publishing. So I dived into researching the topic in earnest and started experimenting with putting backlist titles on Kindle. This kept me busy, allowed me to kid myself I was working and, just as before, it started me in a new direction. Now, after having over forty books published in the traditional way, I’ve decided to strike out independently and publish my new novel myself, without offering it to publishers.
It’s exciting. It’s scary. But I’m enjoying the adventure – organising the editing, talking to the designer and planning the marketing. This is the good side of the bad times – the way life settles and adapts to the changed reality so you can set out again in a new direction.
With thanks to Kristine Kathryn Rusch whose blog post inspired this one.
If you are interested in self-publishing, you’ll find plenty of information to help you on our latest site: www.helpwithpublishing.com.