Thursday, January 6, 2011

Regrets: Comes with Bonus Lecture

I pride myself on going through life with as few regrets as possible.  I speak my mind, I do what I believe is the right thing, I write the stories I want regardless of the market, I make my own decisions (and take responsibility for them) and I'm happier for it.  The truth only offends the guilty, that's my kind of thinking.  I've done plenty of stupid things but most of them led me down the right path in the end so they worked out.

However, I have one regret.  It's kind of a biggie.  It's something I can't change and will always make me shake my fist at my younger self.  I'm in a happy place right now, I love my family and I get to write.  Bigtime loving going on.  Writing keeps my mind clear and (as long as I don't get suckered in to self-doubt and lack of sales depression lol) it makes me a happier person.  Writing regularly stops me from turning into a grumpy she-witch from hell.

It hasn't always been like that - hence the big regret.  I've taken this more seriously and have learned more in the past year than I could have dreamed possible.  But why couldn't I have learned all of this years ago, I would be awesome by now.  Or not, but try not to kill my dream.

When I began the Kindle thing, I had maybe four novels written and a whole pile of short stories.  The fact that none of those novels have been published tells you everything you need to know.  :)  I didn't write regularly, even before I had my children (when I really had no excuse) because I always gave up.  At various points in my life, certain major events pretty much killed me inside a little and the writing always stopped.  Once or twice, I ignored the words for years at a time.  I always thought it was because I was too worried/down to concentrate but (after writing through a relatively recent horrible event) I now see, I just gave up. 

That's my regret.  Giving up, not making the most of the time I had, not making more of an effort to learn, allowing the ego to grow large enough to occupy a country of its own when people (who didn't know better) praised instead of balancing their comments, trying to adjust stories to fit a certain length and never fully allowing real emotion.  It bugs me on a daily basis how much I've held myself back.  I can't blame anyone else or any of the things that happened.  I'm the one who made the decision to stop, to give up - I chose not to work through it.  I should have worked harder.  I'm the one who wasted time.  If I hadn't, I would have reached this stage a long time ago.

Which leads me on to a new pet peeve.  People undermining the success of young writers.  If they worked hard for years, they deserve their success.  Books don't fall out of your arse, you have to put time and effort into them.  I can't try to diminish the success of writers my age just because I was a lazy git while they worked hard, you know?

Leave genres out of it too.  Genre doesn't guarantee sales or success.  Trust me - my weird flash fiction sells a hell of a lot better than my urban fantasy (which contains a few vampires).  There has to be some talent there, some story that people connect with, some skill, a tiny bit of luck and most importantly, a market.  The amount of work, skill, talent and effort put into a book has no connection with age or genre. 

Someone who picks up a pen for the first time at 40 is not automatically "better" than a 30 year old who has been writing constantly since their teens (and in some cases, vice-versa).  And hot genres change, what does it matter anyway?  PnR writers aren't somehow stealing readers from Thriller writers.  (And yes, even though I am none of these things, the insinuations bother me greatly).  So, you know, stop.  Or I'll . . . have a moan on my blog.  ;)


  1. I couldn't agree more. I let Glimpse sit on my computer for five years before I even thought about doing anything with it because...I have a hard time with follow through. :)
    I have also chided myself for not getting my shit together earlier and cringe when I think where I could be now if I'd done so at 25 instead of 35. Nothing we can do about it now. Just have to move forward. I'm hoping when I'm 45 I can look back and say, "Well, at least I finally got my ass in gear in my thirties."
    Good post. :)

  2. That's a good attitude, I need to start thinking like that. All of this pointless fist shaking is getting tiring. :D

  3. Great post Claire. I think follow through is one of the hardest things any writer has to face.


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