The flip-side of dedicating yourself to creative projects, gritting your teeth and getting them into some semblance that can be called ‘finished’ – is working out how to get them out there. This often takes just as much hard slog as getting the thing to exist in the first place. And it’s more depressing.
Hand embroidery flip-side, the mess behind creating
While you’re working on something you have plenty of moments of doubt, but there is a lot of hope in there as well – otherwise how would you keep going? While you are writing there is a feeling there that you are creating something – something whole and real and maybe even beautiful, that might stand up by itself. But then it comes to getting it out into the world all that hope can slowly get chipped away. Leaving you with nothing but the knowledge of all the time you spent working on this thing that nobody is interested in, when you could have been at the beach or eating pancakes or having sex or drinking beers or… well the list of other things you could do rather than go to the library is endless!
Anyway, that is one pathway your brain can go down when you get a rejection letter – but to be honest I am still in my salad days and I do try to stay optimistic. I take every project as a springboard to the next and learn as much as I can because you never know what is around the next corner.
While most of my writing projects are bubbling along in my head, and a few of them are out (hopefully ) being looked at in the world one one of them is getting close to actually existing.
It is very exciting to be able to say that I have a story between the covers of a book that will be published soon!
The actual book! With a cover and pages and everything.
I am a part of the Edinburgh Cooperative of Creative Writers and as well as having a story chosen to go into their current anthology I have become part of the team putting it together. It is all hands on deck at the moment as we polish, publicise and get towards publishing.
It was with much excitement that I went along to our fortnightly meeting and saw the proof copy of our book, but I have to do more than pat it. My project today has been line editing the proof. This is a rather laborious task which requires not cartwheeling creative performances, or grim determination but a whole other subset of skills.
The big surprise – to myself and probably every teacher I have ever had – is that that particular part of my brain actually works. I have known that I have a creative brain for quite some time, and I’ve also known I have the capacity to bounce back from rejection (thanks boys!). But as every report I have ever had in my life has said that I am a decent student, engaged with my work, but that I must watch my spelling and punctuation, it is a surprise to find that I have any capacity at all for editing.
And I am not saying that I am good. I still struggle, but perhaps all the struggling has paid off a little. That and twenty five odd years of reading books that have been professionally edited must have taught me something, because line editing the proof copy I have found myself confidently able to pick up my own and other peoples mistakes.
And I actually enjoy the work. Ok yes there were moments when I found myself stomping around the room saying –
‘Does nobody know that a question mark MUST be followed by a capital letter!’
All the while quietly aware that I must have caused similar tantrums in tutors, lecturers, teachers and glorious friends and family who have proof read for me over the years.
But I stand by my younger self – the story must come first. What is the point of having all your apostrophes, commas and em dashes perfectly tweaked if there is nothing on the page worth reading?
It is nice though to be getting around to what comes after, if only because it means the story exists.
Many stitches later and ta-da!
P.S I will be loudly and excitedly spruiking the book itself when it has been born, so do stay tuned!
P.P.S Adding an extra postscript one week on. Received this email from the hard working Andy from the Co-op and just had to share it…
That was exhaustive and excellent work, you’re good at spotting grammar
errors and I’m glad I didn’t have you marking my exam compositions. 🙂
This blog is posted in conjunction with Natural Suburbia’s Creative Friday.