The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.


Volunteers of the Canadian War Plane Heritage Museum work on the restoration of their Grumman Avenger airframe.

One of the hardest things when you are writer, no matter if you are an amateur or a professional is staying positive. Writing is not for the faint of heart. It has a tendency to lay all of your faults bare, be they internal or external. The entire experience of creating something from nothing that until the act of your fingers hitting the keyboard was just thoughts banging around between your ears can leave you somewhat emotionally raw. Which is one of the reasons criticism of any stripe can be a bit hard to take.
Add to that the struggle which is daily life and what you have to go through to eke out the time you need to write each day to get that first or next book out and it can be hard to not feel the fingers of failure grasping at your back. Not to mention when you do put everything you have into something and nobody shows up to the final party. Those are the moments we feel like a madman or madwoman howling in the wilderness.
And yeah, keeping a smile on your face can be hard in those instances.

The thing is though for those of us that have embraced self-publishing revolution, you’re not under some of the more onerous restrictions that you are subjected to when you’re working with a publishing house. For one, your print run is unlimited. Your book is and will be as long as Amazon continues to exist available to anybody he wants to look for it and pay for it. Which means a pretty permanent back catalogue. I’d say permanent but let’s be honest, nothing is forever.

I received an email on Friday regarding the Ontario writers conference in Ajax. According to them this will be the last year the conference will be held. For reasons unknown to me it’s shutting down. Now conferences come and go, that is the nature of the world but I couldn’t help but notice when I looked into this conference last year that none of their offered talks or classes dealt in any way with the world of E publishing or self-publishing through Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, etc. All of their focus was on trad pub, getting an agent and all the other standard stuff that goes with that sort of thing. And as much as I know the traditionally modelled publishing houses would like to have their hands on the throat of self-publishing through electronic means. The simple fact is no matter how much they hate it, the model is here to stay and it’s pretty obvious that people are moving more towards reading books on their phones or tablets and yes, their e-readers. All of this of course can be handled completely by the individual author. This reduces greatly the need for such institutions, which of course puts them all on the endangered species list. Personally, I’m not going to miss them much.

But getting back to staying positive. Outlining it’s a very important step, it provides you with the roadmap to get you to the end of the story. You don’t have to stick to it ruthlessly, you can always take side trips to look at this or that, just make sure you steer yourself back to the main track. Having steps to achieve along the way keeps you focused and keeps the story paramount in your mind. Writing is hard enough why make it harder?

All the pressure that you feel is self-induced, you can take as long as you want to put your best work out there. You just have to get past that little voice in your head that tells you that you can’t do this, that you suck and that nobody’s ever going to read this. Yes, it’s a lot easier to just write for yourself and never show anybody but half the fun and the terror of this whole experience is putting yourself out there. Not everyone is going to be a fan, some people will be quite harsh in their criticism but others will be quite rich in their praise and I’ve always been one to lean more towards the positive than the negative. Because it’s easy to be negative and the cut down the efforts of others but the learning was in the effort more than it was in the execution you can always change how you execute something. After all at the end of it, you have a book, while the critic has at best a few paragraphs.
Other things that can help? A good cup of tea, a comfy chair to write in, and some decent music in the background and if you get stuck? Take a shower or a walk, ride your motorcycle (if you have one) and clear your head. You’re the captain of your own ship, you know where to go.


My thrillers Devil’s Gambit and Reliance are available on Amazon in print and for Kindle.

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