To say I have far reaching conversations with some of my writer friends would be to undersell the point.
Anyone with an active imagination will understand that it can be hard to control where that imagination takes us sometime – and so it won’t be a surprise to know that a discussion I was involved in, a little while ago, about what would be written on our respective gravestones (should we chose to have them), led to some pretty outlandish results. In fact, some of the suggested inscriptions were so long, I ended up feeling rather sorry for the imaginary stone mason, who’d have had to carve our hypothetical eternal missives.
Later, it occurred to me that I had come up with my own epitaph rather too quickly for comfort. Short and to the point it would say AT LEAST SHE TRIED. Or possibly, NEVER MIND, AT LEAST SHE TRIED. (Probably followed by a list of all my names, driving any future genealogist quite mad with confusion.)
For a moment or two, this filled me with a sense of sadness. Will that really be how people remember me? As someone who simply kept trying, rather than someone who had got where they were going?
Then I realised – with the help of a strong coffee and a bar of chocolate – that being known as someone who keeps trying isn’t so bad.
For all the books and scripts you see popping out of my – seemingly – never ending production line of material – there are a great many things that have never made it. Novels that have been written which simply do not cut it. Audo scripts that are too expensive to make. TV scripts that I’m not skilled enough to make work.
The point is – it doesn’t matter that not everything works. Obviously, I wish they would – for I would love all I touch to turn to gold – but that simply isn’t how this business works. And yet, I continue to try all the time. The novels are still written, the scripts are still in progress.
I fail as often as I win, but I never stop trying.
This is for two reasons –
One – I love what I do.
Two – I have a fear of not giving the things I’d like to do a go. The cliche, “if you don’t try you won’t get”, springs to mind.
I should mention at this point that I am not complaining. Not at all. I know very well that I am extraordinarily lucky to have a publishing contract, an agent, and several other irons in the writing fire.
But I am a realist – there is no place for complacency in a writer’s life. I have an agent and a contract today – but tomorrow…?
In a world where everything is changing all the time, you can’t simply assume you have a contract so you’ll be okay forever. I feel a constant need to challenge myself all the time – try new things – because next week might be the week where no one wants to read my romcoms anymore…
I’ve just re read this – and I’ve noted that there is a slight sense of paranoia to my words. I’d deny it immediately- except it’s probably true. Once upon a time, I was a successful erotica writer – the world changed and the market for intelligent erotica was gone – so I became a romcom writer. I worked very very hard – and now I’m doing that. But I can’t let myself risk focusing on only one genre ever again – so I took to writing crime as well. But that’s still books – and if the bottom falls out of that market – I needed something else to bring in some money – so then there are scripts….
And so it goes – on and on… and I keep trying.
Okay, there are disappointing days when I wish I worked in an office or something, or had a job that had normal hours – but frankly, I’m totally unemployable! Anyway, I love to try- because maybe, just maybe, one day it will all work.
That TV show will happen, that audio drama will be heard, that novel idea that sounds a bit too crazy for the current market will come out, now erotica is stabilizing, perhaps I’ll try that again….
Maybe my gravestone shouldn’t say AT LEAST SHE TRIED after all – maybe it should say SHE KEPT TRYING.