Clive Algar - 2011-10-06
Another brilliant day for writing. The clouds are full and hanging low. There is something electric in the air. The intoxicating smell of coffee drifts across my laptop screen. Patrons are coming and going, stopping and walking, carrying on. This is fantastic, because people, everyday people, being as mundane as they can be, supply an author with ample characteristics and mannerisms and body language.
This is what it’s all about. I take a deep breath and time myself, initiating what most would describe as the writing process. I’ve been waiting to finish this scene for weeks. It’s vital to be in the right mood to write, especially when you are a 55-year-old farm worker waking up in a pool of blood, looking at a panga lying next to your head without a single clue as to what had happened or who had attacked you. I envision myself lying on the ground, opening my eyes and seeing what my character is seeing, feeling what he is feeling, doing what he would be doing. I’m ready.
Then, at the peak of my concentration, my phone suddenly starts to vibrate. I take the call and sigh as I listen to the voice at the other end. One of my clients has had a heart attack and I need to file the paperwork at the office. I finish the call and sit for a few seconds looking at the empty screen in despair. The blinking marker is begging me to start typing, but I can’t. There goes another brilliant opportunity.
Since my first novel was published I’ve been doing this unbearable balancing act between careers – flipping between the one I have to do and the one I want to do. Unfortunately there is no middle ground or one correct option for now. Sales of the first novel has not yet justified the shift in careers. I have to follow up with another novel or else I’ll be stuck in quicksand for the next five years.
An average day might see me going to my office and making appointments, doing paperwork, mailing publishers or reviewers or other authors, eating lunch while completing an interview for a fellow author’s blog, seeing clients, doing more paperwork, taking the dogs for a walk, and preparing for the next day. When I sit down at the laptop it’s almost eleven o’ clock and my eyes are falling shut.
As an author you want the world to know that you are an inspired voice with something useful to say, something of value to those who care to listen or read. Keeping that in mind, there is only one effective way of promoting yourself: constantly. This is difficult when all you really want to do is write. I have four books in my mind and no time to pen them down. So many things keep getting in the way.
Here are the three most prominent hazards for a new author attempting to complete his second novel, while still trying to promote his first one.
First, location: We relocated to George, where very little occurs from a literary point of view. I’m out of touch with the writing community.
Secondly, vocation: Generally first-time authors don’t step into the position of full-time author overnight. Chances are you have to work elsewhere, or manage a number of jobs at the same time, in order to keep food on the table. Sadly, this eats into your writing time, not to mention the loads of research time that precede the actual writing.
Lastly, inspiration: Here lies the snag, the ever-present thorn in the side, the ultimate counter-weight that always tips the way you don’t want it to tip. Inspiration drives the creativity of what we do. As long as there is no drive there will be an empty Word document on the screen.
If writing is not all you do, then the world quickly gets in the way and steals away your time and your inspiration. Luckily I have a very supportive and understanding wife, because let’s face it, authors are no day at the beach. At times we can be our own worst enemy.
So how to overcome these terrible pitfalls that face an aspiring writer every day? How can a first-time author complete that next novel and get his or her book into the world.
There are only three possible solutions, and here they are: determination, determination, determination.