Today, I signed a copy of Broken Body Fragile Heart for a friend of mine. There’s nothing that really compares to signing your name inside something you wrote — a physical, tangible sign that maybe one day I’ll make a living out of this. Or maybe not, especially if I stick with poetry which earns me literally pennies.
It’s easy to get discouraged with writing. I’ve been taking this whole writing thing ridiculously seriously since I was about nine — literally, I used to just sit and research agents, even though I’d never written anything longer than a few pages. For about half my life, I’ve been focused on doing this, maybe even longer. There’s nothing I’ve wanted to consistently as to write for a living.
But it takes so long. It takes so. long.
My writing grew up with me. My first ‘novel’ was done when I was thirteen, and since then I’ve written a dozen more. I don’t feel like a beginner any more, but I’m still only on the brink of making it a career. I’m still at the stage of making lists of agents to query, but not having a query polished and finished yet. I’m still at the stage of constantly rewriting my ending because I’m not happy with it. I’m still at the stage of writing being a dream for the future.
Some days I think, “I can do this. I can make it.”
Some days I wonder whether I should be thinking about applying for internships next summer to increase my chances of getting a job that’s something more than a stopgap until I figure out how to write full-time.
Some days I wonder whether it’s really worth it.
And then I write again… and it is. It’s worth it for the lines I write and think yeah, that was a good one, that one works. It’s worth it for the moments I make myself laugh or cry, but even more when I succeed in making my beta readers cry. And it’s worth it when someone I’ve known since I was a toddler asks me to sign the copy of my book she bought.
I guess I’m just in need of some affirmation, to remind myself that all the years I’ve spent pouring my soul into paper were worth it. So I thought — as an exercise for myself, and also in the hope that someone out there will give my ego a boost! — that I’d share with you a few lines I’ve written in recent weeks and months.
To remind myself that it’s worth it.
Her eyes say ‘hear me’
but her lips say nothing, tell only notes.
— 21.07.15 (untitled poem)
A couple of days later I figured I should introduce myself to the rest of my neighbours. I’d planned to wait until I met a few people through societies so I could make friends more discerningly, but that was just an excuse not to talk to anyone. I’d seen no evidence that my neighbours moonlighted as axe-murderers and, as none of them blared music through speakers at 3a.m., I imagined they were decent enough.
— The Knight Shift, Chapter 2
But this is a new start. From here on out, Isabel Ryans is an ordinary sixteen-year-old girl who is going to go to school, get some qualifications, and not kill anybody.
Else. Not kill anybody else. She really didn’t get off to a great start last night.
— Butterfly Of Night (Moth Trilogy #1), Chapter 1
It feels like I am burning
but then, it feels like England itself
is only a step away from hell
and a breath away from dust.
— 29.06.15, “Unrequited During A Heatwave”
The birds outside sound far too cheerful for such an ungodly hour. For a moment, Isabel seriously questions whether she can kill them without arousing the suspicions of her neighbours. It probably wouldn’t be hard. Birds are much easier to kill than people.
— Butterfly Of Night (Moth Trilogy #1), Chapter 3
I think it’s because I started writing so young that it seems like I’ve been doing it forever — because, for me, I have. But I also know it’s normal to get impatient to start wishing I could just publish a bestseller right now and live off the proceeds for years. I know that getting published three years ago would have been bad in the long run. I have to trust that it’ll happen when the time’s right: when I’m good enough.
The plan right now is to keep writing. Try not to let it get too much in the way of work for uni. And maybe at some point, I’ll figure out a way to make it work for me.
In the meantime, what have you been writing recently? Maybe you could drop one of your favourite quotes in the comments and we can all reassure each other that we’re not shouting into the void pointlessly because at the very least some random stranger on the internet is reading a handful of contextless quotes.
We must take our reassurances where we can find them…