When I look back to the start of my writing life, the writers who inspired me were Enid Blyton (yes, I was that young when I tried to start writing) and Jessica Fletcher. That last one is a bit of a joke but I loved the idea of sitting there typing away and creating stories, like JB did, that people like to read. But the publishing industry has changed since Enid Blyton was around and I’m sure it’s more difficult to get published than it was for JB Fletcher!
These days my inspiration has changed. Now I’m inspired by writers who have struggled to get where they are today and have put in years, literally years, of hard graft, learning and improving their skills. One such writer is Mel Sheratt. I don’t know about you, but I get frustrated with stories about writers who claim they wrote their book in three months and magically found an agent or publisher. Mel’s story couldn’t be more different and nor is she keen to hide the truth. She battled for 12 years to get a traditional publishing deal. Not deterred by agent’s knockbacks, she self-published her ‘Estate’ series and because her books are well-plotted and well-written, she gathered a following. Now her first traditionally published book – Taunting the Dead – is out in a week. What I like about Mel’s story is that she never sugar-coats how difficult the journey has been and is never afraid to show it to the world.
As an insecure writer – something, no doubt, all writers share – I despair of ever being published, but Mel’s story gives me hope. If I work hard enough, her success is possible for me too. I’ve only been writing seriously for a few years and I’m still learning as I go along. If I’m honest, it’s only in the last six months that I’ve started taking getting published seriously.
If Mel’s story has taught me anything, it’s don’t give up. If your story isn’t well received, learn from it and look at how you can improve. Mel has a great hashtag for this – #keeponkeepingon – and I think that will be my motto for 2014.
Thanks, Mel, for the inspiration – and I promise to keep on keeping on!