I’m currently coming down from Follycon, the 2018 edition of Eastercon, which was held this year in the pretty (if sodden and sleety) Yorkshire town of Harrogate. I always find Eastercons a revitalising experience as a writer because you’re in place where people are genuinely interested in how you’re getting on. What have you written recently? What’s happening with the novel? And, occasionally: I read something of yours and I really liked it.
Those conversations are important because in between the high spots of selling stories, publishing books, getting good reviews, there’s space for uncertainty to seep in like brackish water finding a way into a leaky boat, soaking through your boots and leaching away your confidence, replacing it with a numb dampness and the feeling you’ll never get warm again. A little reinforcement from time to does wonders for bailing you out and giving you a much-needed pair of warm socks and a mug of soup. In other words, a little confidence boost that you’re actually okay at this after all.
And, personally, I really needed that this weekend. The last few months, attempting to work on some short fiction, have been a struggle writing-wise. All the words seemed wrong, all of the premises facile or unworkable. To the degree that I spent February writing songs instead. In addition, Queen of Clouds has been out on submission to publishers for several weeks now and there are few greater potential holes in your confidence boat than trying to second guess what editors are going think of your book. So it was good to get a timely and cheerful pep talk from my agent which, along with moments in other conversations over the course of the weekend, did much to return me to an even keel. As, in fact did finally submitting one of those problem stories and having it accepted by the editor with a few nice words of praise.
A good word goes a long way.
Outside of the genre hothouse of the convention, I’ve had a couple more fillips too. One of the things that was getting me down a little lately was the realisation that it’s been four years since The Moon King was published. I love that book and it got a very nice reaction at the time too, but it feels like ancient history now. So it was really nice to see a spate of people still discovering and enjoying it. And, since it occurs to me that other people may still want to discover that deeply strange novel of mine, I’m going to share them with you. Firstly, this review popped up on Amazon last week; and then Cat Hellisen, a really wonderful writer whose work I’ve recently been blown away by** got hold of it; here’s what she had to say.
Cat’s got a lovely attitude of taking the time, when she enjoys something, to tell people about it – especially the creator. Putting in that good word. And it’s a philosophy I’m going to try and adopt too in the future. It’s fair enough, when you’ve enjoyed a book, dropping in a quick review on Amazon or Goodreads (in fact it’s important to do that if you can!), but we should all take a moment to seek out the author to and let them know too. You wouldn’t believe what a difference it makes.
Warm socks, man. At last!
**More on Cat on here in the very near future. I was asked to read and endorse her forthcoming short story collection, Learning How To Drown, and it’s AMAZING, so I’ll be telling you all about it soon.