Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Highs and Lows

My post today was triggered by a phone call I received in the middle of yesterday afternoon. It was from an acquaintance who bought the paperback of my latest book, ‘Dream of Paris’, last week. She said, “I’m just ringing to let you know how much I enjoyed your book,” and then said she wanted to buy all my other books too!
It occurred to me that this is one of the ‘highs’ of being an author. It’s always good to know someone has enjoyed my story.
Last week, my publisher drew our attention to the fact that it was ‘Read an E-book Week’ (with World Book Day in the middle of the week too). She asked if we were willing to offer any of our books for free or at a discount, and most of us agreed. I offered ‘Changing the Future’ free for the week and when Rebecca produced the full list of downloads, I was happy to see that CTF had the most downloads, out of 67 books by 32 authors. Another high? Yes, but far more satisfying was the message I received on Saturday from someone who had downloaded the book earlier in the week. She said, “It's charming, wonderful, brought tears to my eyes and gave me a wonderful treat on a dark, damp and dreary day...I was sorry to part company with your hero and heroine as I connected with them immediately. This is on my keeper shelf and one to return to - often.” That was the real high.
It occurs to me that writing can produce warm, fuzzy highs like this, which compensate for the lows we often experience. In fact, writing seems to be a whole series of highs and lows.
Think about your first draft. You’re on a high when you start it, full of enthusiasm, but then come the lows. The story isn’t going right, the characters aren’t right, your writing sucks – I’m sure we’ve all been through these troughs of depression.
Somehow, though, we get to the end, and then start on the revision, layering in of extra info, rewriting, editing words and phrases. There are the highs – the times when you think ‘Yeah, that’s good’; and there are the other times when you think totally the opposite and you’re tempted to delete the whole thing!
Acceptances and rejections are obvious examples of highs and lows. Edits from your editor? Well, those can be either, depending on how much or how little needs to be changed.

Then you see the cover of your book for the first time. An exciting moment – if you like it! If you don’t, then you have to hope your cover artist is open to negotiation! I actually hated the first cover produced for ‘Her Only Option’ but fortunately the artist accepted my suggestions, and her second draft was a great ‘Yess’ moment.
Then comes release day. Another high? Actually I tend to find it rather anti-climactic – and it’s followed by more highs and lows. Looking at sales figures and Amazon ranking can, quite honestly, make you wonder why you bother. On the other hand, good reviews and comments like the two I’ve had in the past week make it all worthwhile.
So, it seems, we have to accept the lows in order to experience the highs.
I recently read this from a friend on Facebook, Emmy Ellis:

Sometimes you want to give up, yes? Sometimes you wonder what the point is in slogging your guts out, writing stuff no one seems to read, care about, or even notice is there. An uphill battle where others succeed so damn much and others don't. There comes a point where you sit and think: I can't do this anymore.
This happened to me and countless friends. What I did was change my thoughts on what I was doing and why. I told myself it was a hobby. So, look at it like this, and it might just help you get through the rough patches.
It's the peace and pleasure you get from creating that's important. For a writer, there's nothing like the feeling you get from writing. Why give that up? Why deny yourself that pleasure? It's a gift to yourself, something no one else can give you or take away. You own it; it's yours. So do it. Make yourself happy. Just write, go to that special place inside your head and heart and know that this, THIS is what you were meant to do whether it gets you anywhere or not. It's who you are.

Thank you,Emmy, for allowing me to share this. It's definitely something to think about during those 'lows' we all go through at times.


  1. I agree with you, Paula, and I love what your friend Emmy wrote. Hopefully the highs are enough to carry us through the lows.

  2. The great reviews adn the ah-ha moments during writing beat sales rank any day!

    So glad you posted this, Paula!

    And you make me laugh... I can only WISH my first drafts were as well written as yours!! You, my dear, were born to be a writer!

  3. Jen - Emmy's 'spiel' on FB certainly hit a chord with me! She really said it right, didn't she?

    Toni - many thanks! I never made any conscious decision to 'become' a writer because I know I've always been one, long before I ever submitted anything for publication. And you're right about the ah-ha moments during writing too, and the reviews of course!