Monday, 4 July 2016

What Would You Do?

I read something a few days ago which lodged itself deep in my psyche.

(What is a psyche? Maybe I don't have one. If I do, how do I know where to find it?)

It was this question: what would you do if you weren't scared?

At the same time, with curious serendipity, having cleared out the dusty, overflowing cupboard that is my to-do list (see my last post) I was left with two items I could no longer ignore:

1. Get Young Adult novel published

2. Send proposal for book based on blog to Agents

The truth is that what I would do if I were not scared is take my writing seriously, and find a way of making money out of it.

Like many ex-drinkers, after the first few months sober I started to realise what a huge, gaping hole I had in my life.

I'd often find myself (much to the horror of my children) singing along at top volume to The Pogues Fairytale of New York: "I could have been someone!"

(To which the answer is "so could anyone!" Which is true, but unlikely if they're downing more than a bottle of vino a day).

However, the reason it's scary is that it's a path paved with endless rejection.

I have an electronic drawer stuffed with rejection letters from over the years.

Usually I send out a half finished project, get a few standard rejections (we receive thousands of submissions each year, and I'm afraid we are not excited enough about your proposal to be able to offer you representation at this stage) then give up (and drink, obvs.)

So now I've decided to use some of the lessons I've learned over the last sixteen months of not drinking and apply them to getting published.

1. I'm going to feel the fear and do it anyway. What have I got to lose? A little pride, perhaps, but nothing else.

2. I'm taking one day at a time. Any task is less scary if you break it down into small chunks.

3. I realise that if I want a different result I'm going to have to do things differently.

4. I'm going to ask for help. One thing the last year has taught me is you're always better off not going it alone.

So, last week I contacted a top literary consultancy, and I have forked out some of the cash I've saved by not drinking to pay for a professional editor to read my novel and give me feedback.

(She sounds amazing - she's had twenty five children's books published worldwide, so she knows what she's talking about).

And, for the last three days I've been getting up at 4am to finish off my proposal for the book of this blog which I'VE FINISHED!

I sent the proposal to four people and asked for their advice: an author friend, a scientist friend, one of my fabulous readers who's become an e-mail friend, and the literary consultant.

And now I feel like Ripley in Aliens, having just incinerated the mother alien and all her little unborn babies.


The problem is there's this tiny, irritating little voice whispering in my ear and it says what happens if you do all this and still don't succeed? What happens then?

I don't have the answer to that one.

So, my lovely friends, what would you do if you weren't scared?

Love SM x

P.S. If you've only recently found my blog and want to read from the beginning, then click here.


  1. Finish doing the law degree I am currently half way through and go and work for my husband's business.

    Buy a house with a little bit of land and keep chickens.

    Move to the middle of nowhere.

    Be happy. It sounds crazy, but I am too scared to be happy- like I am tempting the gods.

    1. ShinyNewLife, you are cheating the Gods by NOT being happy! One of the best things about this sober malarkey is you'll gradually find the courage to do all that! hugs xxx

  2. I hear you. My thing is writing also, and fear is keeping me back. It sounds ridiculous, but fear of succes (change) is just as real as fear of failure. You should embrace the fear, though, because it tells you with certainty that you are on the right track - you only feel the fear when you are doing something important.
    I recommend 'The War of Art' by Steven Pressfield. He really knows what this whole thing is about.

  3. What you need to do is take the preciousness out of it. Have a workman-like attitude. Work every day, get on with it, don't dwell on the proposals etc, but tackle the next project. Maybe write a business plan. Self-publishing is a very real and lucrative possibility right now - you should look into smashwords, KDP etc.

    1. I know nothing about publishing except what I read in a Marian Keyes novel ha ha but........ I agree with Ulla here and think you should self publish. Your blogsite fans alone would spark interest and buy up copies which proves it's viable.

    2. If you let us pre-order it would pay for the first publishing run & I would definitely pre-order x

    3. I don't really know anything about it but lots of people are using 'crowd funding' to pay for publishing, performances, film making etc. I'm sure you'd get lots of interested people willing to contribute x

  4. I just found your blog a few weeks ago and I think it is totally kick ass!
    Good luck with your adventures.

  5. Best of luck SM! While I haven't read your YA novel, I know from reading your blog from the beginning, that you are a wonderful writer. As part of your "audience" I think you rock! I'm on the SM bandwagon! xo

  6. My problem is that I don't know what I want to do....let alone know if I am scared about it. Sigh. I suppose as I begin to move forward into the next phase of my life, I'll get some ideas! So glad you are moving forward with the book idea re the blog. You must have a HUGE universe of people following you. I read the book "Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It" and it was very interesting to see how that book affected people. I bet there are some great stories from those of us who found YOUR blog and made some definitive changes in their lives. I know I did!

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  8. SMQ: What if you do all this and still don't succeed? What happens then? A: Then you will not have regret because you will know that you have given it your best effort and you tried. It's on of the Four Agreements - always do your best and you'll be free of self-recrimination and doubt about what could have been. Go for it and stick at it - and thanks again for what you do for us - E

  9. Are you my twin? I just re-read the Alchemist.“You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it's better to listen to what it has to say.”
    ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

    Girl, we gotta do this, it's our Personal Legend. It ain't going to go away, it's just like that incessant voice we ignored for years, the one that said we shouldn't be drinking. The only way to shut the f'ing voice up is to do what it tells us.

  10. Go for it SM...nothing to lose but regret...and you are already a huge success, as others have said your writing and changing your own path, has already changed so many lives for good,,,it all depends how do you measure success..

    My problem is that what is in my heart to do will hurt and affect others, and it would be like jumping off a cliff without a parachute,,the only person really being hurt by me not going with my heart at the moment is me.........oh well one thing at a time...just happy to be sober in this moment...xx

  11. Sorry I am late to this debate. I deliver some complex projects at work - a bit more effectively now I don't drink and am full of beans. My mantra is you might not get where you need to be today and things will trip you up- but keep moving steadily in the right direction. Even if you don't get all the responses you want, you will know more about what you want to achieve from the approaches you have made. I think as we get older we realise that life is very rarely black and white and usually shades of grey. ( I wish that author had not appropriated that useful term and made us all think of kinky sex! ) Anyway I love your witty self deprecating writing style and wish you all the best. Xx

  12. I absolutely love your blogs. You have me in stitches. Identify with pretty much everything you say. Husband sick of me quoting you. You definitely have a book in there- keep going. Everyone loathes rejection. I had so many when I was younger and trying to be a barrister. It was like the Harry Potter Letter scene in my then flat. Piles of rejections. Until one gave me a go!
    Keep with it. Hope you do get the band back together !

  13. Hi Another great post to read. I'm in a funny place now, a bit lost and unsure of what to do next. I've always wanted to get a degree and have made a couple of false starts with the OU. All whilst having babies and drinking... So I've faltered because of laziness and being too p***** to care I guess. Do I try again? What will my husband say as I yet again start something I may not finish. Do I really want it? What would I do if I could do anything? I change my mind constantly! But I know for sure that I stand a better chance of making the right choices and seeing them through without the presence of alcohol in my life :-) and whatever happens, it'll be ok because I'm sober. And that's all that really matters tbh. X