It occurred to me on the weekend that the answer to a recurring despondency might be self-publishing. Eighteen months ago I finished my first novel. I sent it out with hopeful letters to a handful of literary agents and told myself I wasn’t surprised that only rejections came back. I made changes, I paid for a professional opinion, my wonderful family gave me feedback, I made more changes. I’m happier with it now but times have changed.
I now have what seems to be a grown-up job. Full-time, hectic, at times stressful, at times exciting, it takes up a lot of time (and the almost three-hour daily commute doesn’t help). I still prioritise writing each day but the thought of dedicating that precious time to writing more letters, researching more agents, begging people who are still so unlikely to show any interest makes me sad.
Self-publishing always seemed like giving up. Now, however, it seems like a wonderful way to share work that would otherwise just be staring at me, daring me to make something of it. I’m not sure this novel is actually worthy of publishing, but I think that’s okay too. It’s a practice, like a music student’s evening soiree for friends and family before the real concert. It also means the next novel, the first draft of which has been marinating for a month but is almost ready to be reread, has something to look forward to.
And the best thing? The after-work admin it requires will actually lead somewhere, because it will be in my control!