So here it is guys … my response to Elli Writes’ April Writing Competition ….
Rebirth, Rebranding, Re-invention!
When I first decided to write a post on Rebirth I wanted to tie it in with the rest of my blog. It needed to be something to do with writing. And so I decided to tie my piece on Rebirth in with one of my first ever posts – So Am I An Author Yet?!
There are a number of stages in the process of ‘being a writer’.
From penning your first ever story, to deciding to write a novel, to finishing that novel, getting an agent, and eventually getting it published. And of course all the various points in time both between and after those stages. Each of those stages can be seen as a rebirth … or at least a ‘rebranding’. Because with each small success comes emotional change.
What started as an untouchable dream becomes closer to tangible reality… and you have to adapt accordingly.
If I had to describe myself right now, I’d probably choose the term ‘inbetweener’. Unfortunately not the twenty-something year-old comedian variety who masquerade as teenage schoolboys on Channel Four (though actually two of the cast went to uni with me), but the writer stuck in the no-man’s land between being signed to an agent, and getting physically published.
I’ve now been signed to the London-based agency Peters Fraser & Dunlop for eighteen months, and in that time I’ve completed two teenage fantasy novels, both of which have been deemed ‘publisher ready.’ The buck has been well and truly passed. Where both ‘Flicker’ and ‘The Dream Navigator’ are concerned, I’ve done everything I can personally do to get them published. I just have to wait to see what the next runner in my publishing relay race – my agent- can do with the baton.
So where does that leave me? I’ve finished three novels, and edited all of them several times. And whilst I have new stories rattling around my mind on a daily basis, I definitely feel a bit off the boil. As if after two years of effort – finishing the writing, finding an agent and then going back over the writing time and time again – I’m waiting to see some tangible reward before I continue.
But I’m beginning to realise this isn’t only the wrong attitude … it’s a self-destructive one. Because, as I described in So Am I an Author Yet?!, a major part of being an author is identifying yourself as one. Self-branding. Self-invention. The only way other people will truly believe (and in the early years, accept) that you are an author, is if you believe it yourself!
So rebirth for a writer is about re-branding, and re-invention.
I am NOT an inbetweener. I’m an author. I’m just an author at the start of my career … and if that career is going to be a successful one, then I need to adopt a fully positive mental attitude to my writing. And that means THINKING and ACTING like an author.
And so I’ve re-evaluated my year, and my aims.
I’m at a bit of a crossroads … after two and a half years travelling and working abroad, I’m about to return home to the UK. And the pressure has been on, from me and from other people ‘to start a career’. I have a degree from Cambridge, and I can’t help but feel that a lot of people think I’m ‘wasting it’. But deep down, I feel like I’ve found my career. Ok, so it hasn’t raked in any money yet, but I’ve been perfectly capable of financially supporting myself while I wrote my books. And it’s not like people always walk straight into the career they will hold for life when they leave university. People try out careers. And right now, I’m trying out writing as a career. Which means committing to it.
So if I commit to writing, what exactly does that involve? As I’ve mentioned, my biggest aims for this year – getting Flicker and TDN published – no longer lie in my hands. But that doesn’t mean I can’t work on other aims. And for now, it seems those new aims are
1) Turning My Ten Future Lives into a screenplay
2) Writing a children’s novel – Mercury’s Child
3) And feeling inspired to develop new book and story ideas, and continue with the Flicker series
How do I go about achieving those aims?
Well, I’ve found I’m at my most inspired AND at my most productive when I travel. Now obviously it’s not possible to travel forever, and never work … but working as a lowly nanny in a Canadian ski resort has funded my ‘writing habit’ pretty well thus far … why not do it for another season? And as for the script-writing … well that’s something totally new to me … so how about doing a course in it, whilst also exploring another area of the globe?
And so … as I re-brand myself a bonafide Career Author, I actually find that very few things are changing. I want to spend this year travelling as much as possible, and funding those travels by nannying – an occupation which doesn’t zap my creative energy.
I’m re-inventing myself … but all I’m really doing is re-inventing my attitude towards my life. I’ve spent the past two and a half years travelling to some of the most exciting and inspiring parts of the world and writing the entire time, but somehow feeling like a failure. Like a shirker. Like I had chosen the unacceptable path. And yet, only now, am I truly appreciating that path, and seeing it for what it really is.
The first steps of a career! Granted, I don’t know whether that career will be a successful one … but isn’t that what life is about? Trial and error?
I didn’t need to re-brand myself for anyone other than me.
So here goes … I’m C-C Lester … Career Author 😉