Well, this is getting very real. Last night I sent my book to my formatter! As I write this update I am left thinking about how I got to this point, and who I have to thank for helping me get here.
In the August of 2007, at the age of 26, I walked away from a 4 year psychologically and physically abusive marriage. Yes, I said it: #metoo. The relationship lasted 7 years in total but the abuse didn’t start until after I married him. I thought, at the time, that walking away after being convinced I was worthless was the scariest thing I would ever do. I was wrong: this is far scarier. This is putting a part myself on display to the world. However, that experience taught me what I am capable of thanks mainly to a healthy dose of general belligerence and point blank refusal to allow myself to ever be treated like that again, but also a network of friendship and support from all over the world. In 2007 I also decided to do some life-pruning. I got new hair (in hindsight, going from blonde to black was not a good idea. Okay mum, you were right. Nobody tell her I said that.), new job, I even met a new husband (though I did not know that at the time). In February 2008, I got engaged to my husband and on the 20th of December 2008, we will have been happily married for 9 years. We welcomed the first of our three Spawn the following March 2009.
In July of 2008 I was made redundant so took the opportunity to develop my story. I completed not only this book but my degree, too with the full support and the encouragement of my husband. Without his support, I would probably have found the whole process impossible. By the time I began my studies through the Open University in 2011 we were expecting Spawn 2, and Spawn 3 arrived in December 2012. I finally finished my degree in May 2016. When I updated my CV and set about finding work I could do around the children I hit another ‘Wall of No‘. After the third ‘recruitment consultant’ advised me against mentioning my six years of study plus parenting to account for the ‘massive gap in employment record’, as employers would apparently not be interested or even put off as it would ‘raise questions about my commitment to the job’ (yeah, I know), I decided to use my admin background and skills and registered as self-employed (another very scary move). Studying with kids required a sacrifice unlike any I have made before and I have the utmost respect for all parents trying to expand their skills. It’s really hard work, and they deserve respect. It meant, for the most part, giving up sleep, but I knew I had the will to put the work in, and that by doing this I was setting an example to my children about what can be achieved with hard work. I would not be honest if I told them that success was easy while never taking risks.
In the November of 2016, I took another scary decision. I signed up for that year’s NaNoWriMo. Suffice to say I did not manage to finish my first draft until the following May, but I think the finished product is well worth the wait. Don’t even let me start on this year. Thanks to the marvels of modern technology I have had access to something I did not have in 2007 when I first came up with the early ideas for what became Charon Unguarded. Yes, it’s taken me that long to get to this stage because, well, life. They say that becoming a self-published author is a bit of a learning curve. That is putting it mildly. At this stage, it feels more like a cliff face and I am standing at the bottom with the tide coming in. Given what I have already put myself through, and that am no longer content to wait for either the approval or permission of others in order to live my life, I have made a conscious choice to take the self-publishing route, remain agent free, independent, and tame that targ myself. For the moment I have no intention of moving into ‘traditional publishing’. I would rather learn the process and acquire the skills to do as much of the process as possible by myself and outsource various elements where I need them.
While I work to remain independent, as an editor I am ever aware that I am not alone in this process. The writer is rarely, if ever, the sole individual responsible for the books on the shelves. I have several would be mentors in this process and am certain a couple of them don’t know this so going to do a name drop so they know I am listening (Harry DeWulf, K. M. Weiland, and Joanna Penn). Were it not for the network of friends and supporters I have built in writers’ groups, and through my work as a freelance editor, I would probably not have got this far let alone gone this route, and would have been stuck on the slush pile forever, so yay internet.