Trolls in the dungeon

Well, I promised to share all the bumps and lumps of this writing journey, and here’s one that makes me squirm. I recently went on an author community forum and asked how a bookseller can sell a ‘used’ paperback version of my book when I hadn’t sold any at the time. I thought I’d done my research, but simply didn’t know that ‘used’ in the publishing world doesn’t mean ‘used’ like in the real world.

The reply I got on the forum was not what I expected.

I was railed at for not researching, for not wanting my book to be sold by a bookseller, and for demanding ‘permission’ for others to sell my book. And I was told not to hold my breath because the paperback wouldn’t sell anyway.

I’m not writing this to garner sympathy. The post upset me and the level of bile spewed across the screen seemed unwarranted, but my experience is also something that new authors may go through when they dip their toes in the forum world.

My advice is to stay strong, keep asking questions and keep learning.

And when you eventually reach the lofty heights of authorly knowledge and experience, be better than the trolls who told you that you’d never make it.

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Hello Stranger

I haven’t here for a lifetime, but it hasn’t been because of a lack of activity.  Last month, I published my first book under a pen name. To say it’s been a rollercoaster of terror and awesomeness is a wee bit of an understatement. I’ve learnt a lot (but not nearly enough) and can already see some of the mistakes I’ve made as a newbie indie author.

My aim now is to share with everyone the mistakes and missteps I’ve made, and (hopefully) the knowledge I’ve gained as I fumble my way towards long term indie author success.

Bear with me. It’s gonna be bumpy.

How my dog told me to shut up and sleep

I’ve just reached the tail end of a pretty crazy exam period involving hominins, Indigenous knowledge, medical anthropology and the environment. Admittedly, I’m not sure how well I did, but one of my study methods involved voice-recording all of my notes and listening to them on repeat in bed, night after night, in the blind hope that I’d absorb something in my sleep. This went on for three weeks. Every night. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well.

IMG_0180My lovely Labrador, Sheldon, suffered through my droning dulcet tones, too. For three weeks, he grunted and grizzled, nudged and huffed during the night from his nest of blankets, then looked at me with bloodshot eyes when the time came to roll out of bed and hit the pavement for our morning walk.

I’m still in that hyped, stressed out study mode, so yesterday I downloaded some mindfulness podcasts to help me reach for that illusive sleep. Expecting another sleepless night last night, I turned off the light and hit play.

Sheldon immediately let out the long, drawn out huff of the damned.

I patted his head and told him he was beautiful, while in background the podcast dreamily spoke about embracing the moment.

Sheldon replied by kicking me in the legs.

I took it for the sign it was; I turned off the phone, settled into the darkness and listened to something I hadn’t heard in three weeks: silence.

Sheldon huffed again, this time in bliss.

It was the best sound I’d fallen asleep to in weeks.

5 things I’m grateful for

Lately, I’ve been a bit swept up by studies, writing/not-writing, and life in general, and so I’ve forgotten to be grateful for all the wonderful things that happen daily. So I’m going to note a couple of them here to acknowledge that each day is a gift.

Today, I’m grateful for:

  1. My dog, Sheldon, who said ‘good morning’ by giving me a nose-to-nose boop.
  2. The autumn leaf that hit me in the face, reminding me that nothing stays the same.
  3. The electricity bill, which was way less than I thought it would be considering how much I used the air con this summer.
  4. My mum, who finally figured out FaceTime and isn’t afraid to use it.
  5. The ‘F’ key that fell out of my keyboard, because I swear just as emphatically while writing as I do talking…and maybe I don’t need to.

Enjoy today, everyone, and try to think about what makes you grateful.

 

 

 

Period Shaming: It’s Got To Stop

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I was at the supermarket earlier today, topping up on tampons because I have my period. As I unloaded my basket at the checkout, the woman behind the counter reached past the other items and took the tampons, saying, ‘Let’s get these scanned first, shall we?’ She smiled as if saving me from embarrassment.

Because menstruation is something to be embarrassed about, right?

Like many women, I grew up ashamed of having my period. I’d learnt it was something gross, alien and unmentionable. I was encouraged to endure in silence. Worse still, my period was often used against me whenever I made an impassioned argument about, well, anything. Because being ‘on the rag’ apparently made me irrational, emotional and my views invalid—regardless of whether I had my period or not.

I’d like to say that in the twenty or so years since I first began menstruating that things have changed. But they haven’t. In January, a young woman in India who chose not to be ashamed when blood showed through her pants was ogled by men and hidden away by other women. A runner who decided to bleed free during the 2015 London Marathon was met with debate and hysteria. Artists like Vanessa Tiegs and Petra Paul—who use menstrual blood as a medium—are vilified online and sent death threats. And then there’s Donald Trump’s fearful comments about Megyn Kelly, saying that blood was coming out of her ‘wherever’ when she questioned him about his history of sexism.

These are not rational responses to a natural monthly cycle affecting around 50% of the global population at some point in their lives. Instead, these responses are symptomatic of an insidious belief that a woman’s body is abnormal, shameful and a source of irrational behaviour.

It’s got to stop.

Because there’s nothing shameful about menstruation. Or having opinions. Or carrying tampons in a shopping basket. Or being a woman.

Period.

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Inspiring Quotes from Women Writers

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Hi everyone, I hope you’re all enjoying your writing and creativity. Here are a few little gems to keep the weekend writing fires burning.

‘A word after a word after a word is power.’ Margaret Atwood

‘It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.’ C. J. Cherryh

‘Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.’ Barbara Kingsolver

‘When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.’ Malala Yousafzai

‘If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.’ Erica Jong

Happy writing, everyone!

The Auto Update of Doom

My writing for the past two weeks has been admittedly hard won. I’m still fighting a turn-my-brain-to-slush virus, and am also muddling my way through essays and exams for uni. So every word on the rewrite has been slow, overthought and precious.

At some point last night, while I was happily dreaming of cat-shaped slippers, my laptop undertook an auto update. Of what, I have no idea. All I know is that this morning when I flipped open my laptop, my array of word docs, scrivener files, excel sheets and google searches were all alarmingly absent.

It took another thirty seconds to discover that my past two weeks of work were gone, too.

Young student woman alone at desk with computer crying desperate suffering

Did I cry hysterically? Yep.

Did I declare the end of my writing career? Absolutely.

Is there any chocolate, biscuits or ice cream left in the house? Hell no.

So now as the crumbs are dusted off my shirt and the chocolate smudges wiped off the keyboard (and couch, pillows, walls, TV remote and carpet), I’m left to contemplate the thousands of words lost and the little rejigs that made the chapters flow better.

A friend kindly pointed out that this is an opportunity to do better, since I hadn’t been happy with my writing for the past fortnight. I know she’s right, and the manuscript will be enriched because of it.

I just need another packet of biscuits before I get started.