• Ryan Love

Oh, you wrote a book?

I wrote this blog on June 2nd partly to encourage myself to keep writing the manuscript I had just started. I'd allowed myself to dwell on the what I had deemed the failure of the first novel to attract any attention for too long. I find it good to look back even just a few months to remember where I was at and to keep reminding myself not to give up.

Allow me to simply start this by saying I know very little, close to absolutely nothing, about how the world of publishing works.

I always knew I wanted to write, that part seemed simple. I had ideas, characters, even endings to stories I didn’t know the beginnings of swirling around in my head. Then I told myself to wise up and stop thinking I had any right to waste time on such goals. There’s nothing like that voice in your head and a big black cloud of depression to shut down your dreams.

Not to go all Disney, but one day I did find myself arguing back against that voice and finally started writing one of the more personal stories I wanted to tell. I knew mental health would always find a way into my writing; my experiences have made me who I am and I don’t think I should be scared of that.

So I wrote. It’s not a big romance. It’s not a whodunnit or thriller. It’s just life. The journey of a 22 year old who has been given a second chance at life and searches for happiness in the darkest of times. I knew my story didn’t have a big trauma, a big secret that triggered years of depression or attempts at suicide. I didn’t want that. I wanted hope. I wanted the happiness my lead character wants. That kind of felt universal; aren’t we all, especially after living through the last year, looking around at the small things that made us happy? That was the story I wanted to share. A story to remind people to not just take the big things but to cherish the little ones, the everyday moments that let the light into their lives.

I hope that’s reflected in the words and the story. Then I needed to define the genre. Yikes. Women’s fiction? Can I call it that when I’m a male writing a male lead? Book Club? I’d love to think so, but should I call it that primarily over something else? Then I saw UpLit and realised that, as corny as it sounds, that was exactly what I had. I wanted people to feel something, to take a hopeful message from the story. I’m pretty sure we need that more than ever right now.

It turns out writing 85,000 words was the easy part. Whoops. I know there are lots of ways to send your work off out into the world, but I’d never have the nerve to do that on my own. Fair play to anyone that can. I’m probably too used to an editor looking over every word I’ve written to be that ballsy.

Finding an agent wasn’t something I’d given much thought to. I knew it would be tough, and truth be told, it really is. It’s tougher than I ever prepared myself for. The fear of putting a sample of these words I’ve written out there for someone to make a snap judgement on hit hard. I know that probably sounds a bit silly, but it suddenly felt very real that someone was going to say yes or no and that was that. Everyone is so busy that nobody has time to tell you why they are saying no. It’s all subjective. I had to prepare myself to sit back and wait for that to happen.

I’m not the most patient person. Unsurprisingly, I am an inbox refresher. Did an email just arrive? Yes, it was one I sent to myself to test my inbox. Refresh again. Not the greatest personality mix for a process that can take up to 12 weeks and more when it’s busy.

So I’m still waiting. Hoping. Editing. Trying to constantly improve the manuscript and read between the lines of feedback on what I need to do. It’s all a learning process, but one I signed up for and really want to enjoy. I’m telling myself every day that there is an agent out there who will get me and my work. I’m sorry to whoever that person might be, I promise I won’t be annoying.

The rejections do sting. There’s no denying it. You wonder why, you wonder if they absolutely hated it, you wonder if you should just quit while you’re ahead.

For now, all I can do is put book one to the side and let whatever happens, happen. I’ve found myself a new focus in the second book I’m writing. I do feel like a bit of a fraud saying I’m writing my ‘second book’ when the first is still a word document that has been read by a handful of people.

When someone asks what I’m up to I debate over saying it even though I am living and breathing the whole thing every day. Saying it out loud makes it real, it makes the possible failure to find an agent or ever be published real. They’ll give me that ‘Oh, okay sure’ look and say they want a signed copy. I’ll laugh along. Oh God, I am absolutely mortified at the very idea and they know it.

Anyway, I thought I’d try and focus some of my ‘waiting around’ energy into this. I might as well document the path to… whatever this is. Success or failure, it’s a hell of an experience.

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