Thursday, June 08, 2017

Saying I Quit - IWSG June Post

I have been quieter here than I meant to be, and I'm glad the question posed by the Insecure Writers' Support Group gave me a lot to say, prompting me to come post here.

There have been a lot of developments in my life. An old business associate of mine got in touch and asked me to become editor of a monthly national magazine that she founded. I had to think real hard about that, because the work would be very demanding, and restrictive of my time, but eventually I said yes, because the work fits very well with my values to help create the world I want to live in.

I can't talk too much about the work here yet,  but will probably do so in the future ad nauseam.

I moved out my sister's flat to share a cute little cottage in a Johannesburg suburb I knew of, but I hadn't spent much time there. It's very upmarket, and poor little me was feeling very lost, surrounded by mansions and security guards, and for a while, I wondered if the move was a mistake. But I decided to give myself time to settle in before giving in to buyer's remorse. Honestly, the cottage ticks all my necessities and wants: The rent is well below what I budgeted for, I like my flat-mate, we share similar values, we have a beautiful garden where she  has been growing vegetables, herbs and fruit and I'm free to add to the venture, I don't have a long commute to work and there is someone in the premises to bounce around my creative ideas. But for a second there, I was scared that it was all too good to be true.

Why I have previously quit writing

Anyhoo, to answer the June question/prompt of the Insecure Writer's Support Group: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

The answer to that is yes, I have quit writing before. I was spoilt by early success, in that, a local mainstream publisher accepted my first children's book when I was 19 years old and still at university. Then the industry changed and publishers were battling and whole imprints were scrapped. I still submitted my stories, but instead of receiving rejections on basis of my work, publishers were telling me that they were not in a position to look at new work. Accepted stories were returned, with recommendations to approach editor X at their competitor, and I did, but they also passed on the work. At that time, anti-apartheid struggle stories were well-received, and I did not have any stories that fit that mould. I was a young woman who was comparatively priviledged despite my race in South Africa, and my stories felt as dull as my life. It felt like I was hitting my head against a wall. Eventually, I decided to "grow up and get a job," and forget about writing. 

Renewed enthusiasm

It was one of the most debilitating decisions that I ever took. The job was OK, the money was very good, but I lacked an outlet for my creativity. Eventually I had to acknowledge that the stories inside my head were not going to go away. In ten years, I would still want to write and would have missed a decade of self-expression and learning. So I started scribbling in my notebooks and eventually, looked for ways to make writing my career and a part of my daily life.

My life is still boring, but I have moved from the concept of "write what you know" to "write what you want to know." So as I learn more about new subjects, I hope I pass my enthusiasm and share the knowledge with my readers. I'm not an expert on topics I write about, but an enthusiastic learner. This approach has been liberating for me and helped me to craft characters who have lived lives I never lived and done things I have never done. It has also enriched my own life choices. 

The writing industry is still tough, and there is always a Cassandra out there screeching about a forthcoming disaster in the industry. But now, I no longer expect things to be easy and am ready to face whatever challenges come my way. I do what I have to do to survive as a writer because I don't have any other choice but survival.

About Insecure Writer's Support Group

The Insecure Writer's Support Group encourages participants to share experiences about making a profit as an author, what it takes to become a successful writer, the many skills a writer needs to learn other than writing, share the experience going from hobby writer to published author (without making it a self-promotion piece), the fallacies behind writing for profit, the little known facts learned along the way, what you wished you knew when you first started writing, or marketing tips based on experience of what has worked and what hasn't.

Founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the hosts this month are JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner! 

Thank you guys for all the hard work you put in to make this group possible.


1 comment:

Stephanie Faris said...

I can definitely relate to the publisher battle. It seems the industry is CONSTANTLY changing. You have to be able to constantly regroup and go in a different direction at a moment's notice. It can be exhausting! But all we can do is write. Congrats on your new role. That sounds exciting!

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