Well, I’ve decided on my – rather vague – grand plan, I’ve designed my blog and written my first post, but where do I begin with the actual fiction writing I intend to do? It’s easy enough to describe myself as an aspiring writer but how on earth do I get from there to anywhere close to ‘published author’? From where I am right now it seems like a massive hill to climb.
I’ve been doing a bit of online research about what it takes to get work published and the various ways a writer can go about it. There are all sorts of things I could try out: magazine article submissions, story competitions, sending unsolicited manuscripts to publishers (those that accept them), pitching editorial ideas to newspapers and magazines, self publication… the list goes on.
‘Lots of ways in, and things to have a go at, hooray!’, the optimist in me thought. But, at the same time, in all the research I did there were many warnings about rejection. Actually, they weren’t really ‘warnings’, just sensible statements of fact about rejection being something that all writers have to face. Repeatedly. ‘Hmmm, there are lots of ways to fail’, my pessimistic side jumped in to add.
Having said that, rejection – even the idea of repeated rejection – doesn’t really bother me at this stage: I’ve accepted it’s going to happen. Of course the experience of it will be far harder than my matter-of-fact acceptance of it now but, even so, it’s not at the root of my fears. No, what scares me most is the idea that I just might not be any good. What if I’m setting myself up for something that I could never hope to get anywhere with? What if I get rejected repeatedly not just because ‘that’s what happens’ and ‘it happens to every writer at some point’ but because I simply don’t have what it takes? That’s one big scary demon of self-doubt sitting in the corner there.
But ugly demons like that (I’m imagining it a kind of squelchy green colour and oozing pus) could stop me even before I’ve started and, really, the only way to find out if I’m any good at writing is to have a go at it: which brings me back to my initial question of ‘where do I begin?’
Well, I’ve decided to set myself some targets for the next few weeks and by stating them here I’m hoping I’m more likely to achieve them. So over the next few weeks I will:
a) Commit one of the short stories I’ve got in my head to paper.
b) Write something for a story competition. There seem to be lots of competitions out there so I need to sort through the likely ones and then take the plunge and enter.