Writing takes up so much time, doesn’t it? You spend hours creating your novel, then, unless you’re a best seller, you wait months for a publisher’s decision.
I’ve never been good at waiting, nor taking publishers’ advice: ‘Write something else,’ ‘Get on with the next thing’, ‘Plan your next novel!’ All very well, but it all takes so much TIME! And there are no guarantees. For every novel I’ve had accepted, I’ve had another turned down. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. So much time wasted on more piles of paper, abandoned, left to languish dustily on the shelf.
Does anyone write only for the love of it, content to write without ever being read? Can writers actually exist without readers? I don’t think so. The thrill for me has always been that someone has read and enjoyed my writing. It’s about contact, isn’t it? Communication. To elicit that magical elusive 'oh, yess' moment, where someone's full attention is caught by your story.
I think it was Wilkie Collins who said, about writing: ‘Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em cry, make ‘em wait,' in other words a writer's task is to provoke a response. Then there's E M Forster's 'Only connect.'
When I started writing for the market, I did take some useful advice, about a way to ease the tedium of waiting for a decision on my grand oeuvre. Write shorts and fillers! In other words, short pieces for magazines, that are constantly on the lookout for short stories and fillers, entertaining pieces to fill a gap in their pages. Wow! Fast writing. Quick decisions. Cheques!
I began simply with readers’ letters. Most magazines have a letters page and some pay well for your contributions. I was paid £10 for a recipe and another £10 for a humorous account of a funny thing that happened when I was on a bike ride with my son.
Gosh! Wonderful. Then £25 each for pieces based on family anecdotes, such as my husband’s flying lesson and moving house to Cornwall, when the cat escaped from the cat carrier as I was driving in the fast lane on the motorway.
Next, I was submitting short stories to magazines and competitions. Hooray! I danced round the house when I got a three figure cheque for one of those.
There’s nothing like success to keep you going.
I’ve written seven novels for children, with four published. That’s three I’ve not been able to sell. It’s tricky when your novel is turned down and you’re not sure why. No one in publishing mentions sales. They all talk about stories and talent and wonderful writing, but what I’ve finally realised is that if your current books don’t meet sales targets, your next book slips out of consideration. That’s difficult to live with: two or more years’ effort down the pan.
So, what you do is keep writing your book, as a labour of love, and meanwhile earn a crust with shorts and fillers, if you have the time and inclination. Don’t quote me, but I believe you have to have about 70 fillers circulating to make a decent remuneration from this kind of writing. That’s a lot of short pieces, but it’s great fun, with swifter responses from editors and cheques in the post.
Pauline Chandler www.paulinechandler.com
Pauline's latest book is a new edition of 'Warrior Girl' from CybermouseMedia.
Set in 15thc. France, during the 100 Years' war, 'Warrior Girl' tells the story of two teenage girls caught up in epic events, who face love and loss together.
When Mariane, left mute after her mother's murder, is sent to live with her Uncle d'Arc in Domremy, she is mystified by her strange cousin, Jehanne, whom we know as Joan of Arc. Jehanne says God has commanded her to crown the next king and lead an army against the English invaders. Is she serious? Or quite mad? Has she told her parents? When her mother's killers pursue Mariane too, she leaves Domremy with Jehanne, to face her own challenges. The girls part for a while, then meet again, after Jehanne is captured.
Available from Amazn: http://amzn.to/1ztAIOD
Signed copies available from the author at a cost of £10.00, to include p&p