Thursday, 25 February 2010

Great Expectations

Good morning, come in. Its chaos here, I'm trying to get my eight year old to eat something not chocolate based before school and the baby has discovered the joy of throwing his breakfast. There is coffee, but it's only instant and I think there's a stale croissant at the back of the bread bin, but you'll have to fight over it. Still, move a pile of laundry off of a chair, take a seat and relax. Do you take sugar, only I've run out and the thing is the only milk I've got is formula milk.....

So wow, what can I post about I wonder, so many brilliant and original subjects have been covered here over the last few months. And then here on the eve (ok I cheated I'm writing this while baby cat naps on Thursday evening) ....on the eve of publication of Tamsyn's first novel MY SO CALLED AFTER LIFE, I realised that part of the joy of being part of the racers over the last two years has been seeing my friends achieve so much - Calistro, Tam, Caroline to name just a few of us have found all the hard work, dedication and belief they've put in finally paying off.

I've been in print now for the best part of a decade. I've had a great career so far, never quite edging it into the top ten (top fifteen three times!) but I've made the New York Times bestseller once (for about five minutes) and seen my book published in several countries with some modest success. I even get royalties now, got a cheque for £18.97 last week. And to have a writing career over so many years is in itself an achievement. But is it what I expected when I started out? No, not really. I expected to sell a million copies of every book, to see some Hollywood starlet star in the film adaptation (s) and to finally get the chance to air my booker prize winning speech that I have been practicing since the age of nine. Almost ten years in and I know how lucky I've been to have come this far, but if I'm honest and prepared to risk some ridicule I still practice that speech in the bath, even though I know that I haven't ever really been eligible to for that particular prize since I discovered that I am the kind of writer that writes the kind of books that people read for fun. But, for me at least, part of being a writer is that you never stop dreaming or hoping or believing that dreams can come true, not matter how improbable they might be. And who knows maybe one day someone will preface my name with the words 'And the winner is....' Even if it is only the lady calling out the raffle prize results at the Brownies Bring and Buy.

And so my post is short but sweet. We all write because we must, its part of us, it is what we are. But whether you are published or not, whether you write simply for the joy of it or to pay your bills - what are your great expectations? What do you secretly dream of for your writing life and do you believe that reality has or will match up to you dreams?

20 comments:

Chris Stovell said...

It was lying on a very hot beach in - yes - Dorset one summer, seeing very other woman reading a copy of Jilly Cooper's 'Rivals' with its distinctive red stilleto cover that made me think, 'Ooh, that's what I want!'. I would, quite simply, just like to entertain folks. If just one person comes up to me in June/July this year to tell me they've enjoyed 'Turning The Tide, I feel pretty chuffed!

Debs said...

Reading your post has brought back memories of when my two were small. I'm amazed you have a moment to write at all let alone such a successful career.

At the moment, I'd simply like to earn my living writing books and working from home. I can't think of anything better.

Chris Stovell said...

Apologies for gibberish comment last night - have the cold from hell and it shows.

Karen said...

I always dreamed of having something published and the reality definitely lives up to expectations - that first phone call from the editor at Take a Break accepting one of my stories was a highlight of my writing career to date, but still I dreamed of having a novel published. Now that dream is ever so slightly on the horizon I daren't look further than that, but even if it comes to nothing I won't stop dreaming - maybe it's what pushes us on!

Flowerpot said...

I used to fantasise about possibly a TV series - maybe a film, but hadn't got to The Awards!!! As a journalist I'm always incredibly chuffed when people email saying how much my pieces have meant to them. I've had several this week, and one from a harbour pilot who said his mother was in tears of joy reading about him she was so proud of him and that reduced me to tears! But it made me so happy that I'd made someone's mum happy. If I ever get that novel published, I hope to be able to do the same.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Hello, everyone. I'm taking a few days off from the non-fiction to recharge my melting brain and write a short story that demanded it... (pointy sticks were involved). I too have been extremely fortunate. After my first book, my ambition became ten books. Now I've done that, I have two other ambitions. The first is to see one of my books in a bookshop. I've never done that. Living in the middle of nowhere doesn't help, of course. I've seen them in libraries, but a bookshop will be a thrill. The other is to get a novel published that is bought by folk other than my friends. That is a bit greedy cos it happened once, but the publisher went bust so I never found out the sales figures beyond a vague 'few thousand' and I didn't see a penny in the way of royalties (although I still get PLR). Anyway, that's what I'd really like - complete strangers picking up something I've written and wanting to read it.

Captain Black said...

My great expectation, though it's more like a vague hope at present, is that one day I'll find the inclination, courage and dedication to start writing again.

Denise said...

I'll just have a glass of water then thanks! Yes, a plastic beaker would be fine.

My expectations vary on a daily basis. I'm in the lovely, but pointless, position of never having shown my writing to anyone but a couple of people at writing conferences. Nobody has even had the chance to reject me, so I can dream accordingly.

Some days I picture the rejections piling up on the door mat, each nastier than the last. Yet I do have this belief at the back of my mind that it'll all work out for me, because I've tended to be a lucky person. Some days I stand in Waterstones and can picture my book on the shelf. This is the year I start to find out though, because I plan to start sending my novel to agents in the summer.

Leatherdykeuk said...

I'll just stand outside in the garden, if i may and catch raindrops with my tongue.

I still dream of being 'discovered' and seeing the name 'Jasfoup' hit the top 100 baby names list. The reality, though, is I see myself as an old lady in a back room somewhere writing Coughporncough erotica for vanishing indie publishers

Emily Tootsweet said...

When I first started writing I had grand designs on being a best selling author overnight, getting a big house in the country and spending all day every day writing. Producers and directors beating my door down in desperation to make my books into films and having shelves of prizes.

But then reality sets in.

Realistically, now, I dream that one day I'll get that agent who 'gets' my writing and then a publisher who 'gets' it too. Will my dreams come true? It's possible but I have to keep aware that it could never happen either. But it won't stop me trying. You have to have a little hope, don't you?

Tam said...

I'd like to sell a few books and not worry that I won't earn out my advance *nips back to Amazon to check sales ranking*. But more than that, I want to know that people enjoyed my writing. I'm not Man Booker material either.Not sure I want to be - effortless reading, that'll do!

PS Thanks for the plug - the party was amazing and there will be pics up on my blog soon, if anyone wants to see 'em.

L-Plate Author said...

Great expectations? After ten years of nearly getting there, I'm not sure I can comment. I've had every dream possible during this time, I suppose they never go away.

But at the moment, I'd just like someone to validate my writing for me by taking a chance and publishing it. It would be a nice end to my never ending story...

DOT said...

No wonder you have been a success. Anyone who begins their career by preparing their Booker Prize acceptance speech before writing anything so mundane as a book will succeed, as I have coincidentally pointed out on the second lesson of my Creative Writing course on my blog.

JJ Beattie said...

Hello, sorry I'm late.

I think I must be very dull, but at this stage I just want to write the best book I can. That feels like a gigantic climb to me, and I truly don't know what I want from the future. It looks like a scary place out there!

Fia said...

Sorry I'm so late. I'm typing with my left hand which would be great if I were left handed. Down for an op in two weeks time for Carpal tunnel:(

I'm finding writing this novel very hard work. The love has gone but I want to complete it. I can't imagine selling it but I've gone past the point of caring about that.

To keep happy, I write little short stories which don't have to be commercial but can be as off the wall as I like.

LilyS said...

Great post, I'm guessing if its still there that croissant is really really stale by now.

I would love to see someone buying my book in a bookshop. I would be so pleased with that. At the moment though I just want to get to a stage where its ready to sub and when I get there I'll start imagining Gerard Butler as my leading man!

Annieye said...

What a great post, Rowan. I hope you don't mind me popping by in the middle of the night - I'll just make myself a cuppa and then I'll clean your kitchen for you (I used to love that when people did it for me when mine were babies).

I dream of going into my grandchildren's school and seeing the proud look on their faces when their teacher says 'This is Tyler and Sophie's Granny. She is a writer and has come to listen to you read.'

I want this for two reasons: (1) It will mean I have given up work if I've got time to be a helping granny in their school, and (2) I will have been published.

Ever since I was a little girl, every time I visit my local public library I make a space on the shelf where my book will, one day, occupy. It's a bit of a daft ritual, I know, but it keeps the dream alive.

Rowan Coleman said...

Thank you for sharing your dreams, interesting that mine are the most grandiose and far fetched...what does that say I wonder? I especially like Annieye's ritual of clearing a space on a library bookshelf. When ever I go into a shop if they have one of my books I always turn Jackie Collins face out and put it on top of the pile.

JJ Beattie said...

I have to confess to having been a bit coy with my dreams. Partly because I am in the midst of a deadline but also I feel self conscious declaring them here!

I'll tell any of you in person!

Rowan Coleman said...

I totally get not wanting to jinx yourself, Jenny. I live my life by that rule...oh darn it that's really it for the Booker prize isn't it?