The Painful Truth

What a dramatic blog title. Drama is fun sometimes. But the explanation behind this title is really in response to a question someone put to me at work the other day. I’ve been sitting brooding on it for a while and decided to sort it out by writing it down.

The question was simple. ‘What’s it like to be a published author?’

The answer is not so simple. Because let’s just pick a few words out of the ether here; words and phrases that spring to mind instantly on being asked that question:

  • Brilliant.
  • Amazing.
  • Slightly surreal.
  • It makes me feel incredibly proud.
  • Giggly.

These are all all good, positive words. But for all the positive, there are a lot of painful truths about writing. And I know that a lot of you guys out there are eager to pursue a writing career, or are looking to get published and I wish you nothing but great success. But if you are holding down a full-time job as well, let’s be brutally honest about the more difficult aspects of what being a published author actually means.

  • Free time… I vaguely recall that. I feel guilty because I’ve had to abandon certain things in favour of meeting deadlines and there are people who don’t quite ‘get’ it.
  • Writer’s block (although fortunately, that’s not something I suffer with too much).
  • Frustration.
  • Anxiety. Nerves about the imminent release of a first novel are pretty horrible. I swing between ‘eeeee’ and ‘aaaaargh’ at least five times an hour.

And then people try to help. They really do. They say things like…

“So give up full time work and write for a living.”

Oh, god, can I? But alas. I am cursed with a Sensible Gene, tempered by the lesser known Astartes organ implant of Common Sense. I have bills to pay. Genre fiction is not going to let me do that, certainly not at the front end of my career. At the moment, my short-term goal is to look at going part-time. That way, the steady income remains and the writing income continues to be a nice bonus. I am not in a position to take the plunge and write full-time and because I have responsibilities (house, husband, child, cats, internet account etc), I won’t risk my financial stability for it. I have the greatest respect (and more than a tiny bit of jealousy) for those who are in a position to stick two fingers up to the day job. One day…

“But writing must be really rewarding.”

Hell, yes. Absolutely without question. But for me, it also has quite a few associated irritations. Like… not being able to switch my brain off when I go to bed and laying there for hours wondering what Valkia will do next, or pondering what Space Marines wear under their armour. (Note: that is not a perverted thought. It was a genuine question at the time). My bedside table and computer table are littered with Codexes, Army Books, photocopies of useful research pages… I’ve been cheeky and stolen precious writing time just to read The Outcast Dead, but I actually can’t remember the last time I sat and read a book from cover to cover in one sitting like I used to. I miss that. I still read of course, but now it’s in that period when I can’t sleep.

“You’re going to book signings? That’s exciting!”

Actually yes. Yes, it is. Nerve-wracking, too. But mostly exciting. But I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve actually done one. 🙂

“But a WRITER! That’s like… J.K. Rowling TASTIC! All that MONEY!”


OK. If you say so.

So yes. It’s all really exciting and there’s a lot of stuff currently in the pipeline with my editor that means I have loads more to be excited about. But it’s not all glamour and chocolates and champagne. Actually, chocolates and champagne is massively appealling right now. One moment, and I’ll get my hired help to go and hand craft me some chocolates in the kitchen (which is the size of a football field) whilst chilling the vintage champers. Then I will use my high-technology voice recognition software* to dictate the next chapter of my book whilst lounging on my outrageously expensive hand-made leather sofa and watching the latest films in high definition on a TV that fills an entire wall of the house.

Well? I can dream, can’t I?

In the meantime, I’ll go put the kettle on for more tea.


* Note: Our radiology department uses voice recognition software. Yesterday, I read a CT scan report in which a patient’s pancreas was ‘displeased’. I THINK it should have been displaced. I hope not. The first one’s much funnier.


One thought on “The Painful Truth

  1. Schafe says:

    Look, you don’t want to get on my bad side, I’ve got my fingers on that insulin button and I know how you love to enjoy things with high sugar content. So be a good person and do what I say.

    Now you have me thinking that all my organs are mafia types who are going to blackmail me to meet their demands otherwise they’ll make me sick and dead. Thanks for that.

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