Today I’m pleased to welcome Laurie Ellingham to the blog. Laurie is the author of The Reluctant Celebrity and her new novel, How to Throw Your Life Away was published on 14 April 2016. Laurie has written this fantastic post about being a fiction writer.
Why be a fiction writer?
My first paid job in writing was for a recruitment agent, writing job descriptions for PR roles in London. All day long I spouted out words like ‘high-calibre’ and ‘go-getter’. Every description started with a catchy question or statement – Are you looking for a thrilling career that really makes a difference? YOUR NEXT JOB IS HERE!
This skill, however cheesy, has stuck with me over the years, so when I got to thinking about why anyone in their right mind would choose to become a novelist, I had to knock up a job description…
‘Job Title: Fiction Writer Starting salary: £0 Job Description: Have you got what it takes to write a novel? READERS NEED YOU! We are looking for one highly imaginative person to become a fiction writer, producing high-quality novels in any genre. First and foremost, you will need exceptional writing skills, a unique writing voice, and the ability to create multiple character and novel ideas. Dedication is absolutely key as you must be able to work alone for months at a time, and expect no understanding or recognition from those around you. Successful candidates will need a thick skin as countless rejections are expected. In addition, the successful candidate can expect self-doubt to be a regular, if not, constant occurrence throughout the process. A comfortable chair, and a love of coffee and chocolate are advised. Your salary will depend on your writing skills, but we believe our starting salary is both generous and the industry standard for this role. Please be aware that writing a well-written and enjoyable novel is no guarantee of global recognition or an increase in your earnings. Travel costs, optician appointments, posture related ailments, proof readers, editors, computer equipment, and any other costs incurred through the creation of your novels will be taken from your starting salary.’
It doesn’t sound particularly appealing, does it? And yet, I love it. I love the fizzing excitement as an idea grows in my head and takes over my life. I love waking up on my writing days with the knowledge that I have a full day of writing ahead of me. I love my characters, and how they interact in ways that I didn’t expect when I set out to write about them. I love reading through a first draft, and finding sections of writing that I’d forgotten about. I love walking into a library or a book shop and seeing my book on display.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been, and still aren’t, tears along the way – lots of tears. The agonising self-doubt that can eat away at me. Is that chapter any good? Is the concept of my novel going to work? Will anyone like it, or read it? Am I ever going to get where I want to be? And that’s before I launch myself into the submissions process and open myself up to weeks of waiting and rejections. Then it’s out there, my book in the big wide world competing with thousands of others.
Book chart rankings, and the heart pumping moment when I wait for the webpage to load so I can see what someone thinks about my book, are among just a few of the things I agonise over on a daily basis after publication.
I often wish I could bottle the zinging excited feeling of being a writer on good days, so I can take whopping great slugs of it on the bad days. Instead, I grit my teeth, wipe the tears away, receive a supportive pep talk from my husband, and pull back my shoulders, ready to do it all again another day. Why be a writer? Because taking a world and a story that exists only in your head, and sharing with others, is the best feeling and the best job in the world.
Thank you for stopping by on my final blog tour spot. If you’re having a good writer day then don’t forget to enjoy it, and write yourself a supportive post-it ready to read on the next bad day.
So what’s next for me? Well I’m knee deep in second edits for my next novel – Three Months to Live, which I hope to see released in spring 2017. Here’s a sneak peak at the opening blurb:
Twenty-four year old Lizzie Appleton has a brain tumour. With only three months to live she is offered the chance to fulfil her dream to backpack around the world with her best friends, Samantha and Jaddi, if she agrees to be part of a TV documentary covering her final months, but all is not as it seems through the camera lens.
Three Friends…Three Secrets…Three Months to Live.
About the book:
“Have you ever wondered how much it would take to make you snap?
For thirty-two year old Katy Davenport it was the littlest thing…
All her boyfriend of five years had to do was answer her question about dinner.
Not ignore her.
Not continue to watch the football like she didn’t exist.
In that moment Katy snaps. One moment of insanity and Katy throws her life away.
The policeman who arrests her laughs. Her best friend cheers. And her anger management counsellor insists on embarrassing her in front of the entire class.
For Katy this is just the beginning as she struggles to find her place in a whole new world where her ex-boyfriend refuses to move out of her house, and Katy finds herself snapping again and again.
Will Katy be able to control her anger for long enough to pick up the pieces of her life?”
You can find out more about Laurie and her novels on her website here.