Wednesday 17 January 2018

Doubting Alexa

I’m still not sure about writing this, such is my level of doubt at the moment, but here goes.

Most writers and others will have heard of Imposter Syndrome. I’ve been experiencing this feeling for some time now, so much so that I’ve struggled to write anything for a while, and had little belief in the words I have committed to paper. I’ve told myself that this is a feeling many writers have, but I give myself the same reaction my mother did when I said other mothers allowed their children to do something – I am not them.

When my first book, Sporting Chance was published back in November 2014, I’m not sure what I thought would happen. To be truthful, I didn’t care because I had a book out with characters I loved, and still do. It did quite well, and is still my best-selling book. Since then, I’ve had eleven other stories published. Some have been better received than others, but none have sold in the same numbers, even with good reviews, and I can’t help wondering why. My Highland Cowboy had some great reviews, but has sold less than a third of Sporting Chance. Now, I know other people have experienced a drop in sales over the last few years for various reasons, and I tell myself I don’t do this for the money – which is true. I don’t have to live off my sales, so I could go on producing books while my publishers take them. The thing is, I feel guilty. I feel like I’m letting people down. And then I begin to wonder about the point of is of sitting staring at a screen, writing words, editing them, grinding out a synopsis and blurb – spending hours – for so few to enjoy or experience my words. Is it worth the effort and heart break? I could go back to writing fanfiction, something I loved to do.

Last year, I had two books and a short story published. While You See a Chance had two older characters. I spent ages writing and rewriting this one, maybe too long, adding bits and taking some away. It was hard. On the other hand, My Highland Cowboy just happened with little bother. It was my style – two MCs I loved, a smattering of secondary characters and sex. It wasn’t majorly angsty like some others I’ve written, but I’d intended it to be like that. The Matchmaker, a short story, is written in the same sort of vein—light and fluffy.

While these were the stories I had published, I began to write what I intended to be one long book. It got to 100K so I decided to split it and write a third with the same MCs to make a trilogy, but I wasn’t going to submit until I’d written all three. I love the MCs, especially Jonah, who I’ve wanted to write for a couple of years. He’s a large bloke with a tough background who has fought to gain confidence and overcome his problems. He believes in giving back and his friends love him. The other MC, Owen, is based on the experience of a well-known person who is mixed race and was adopted. He recounted his experience in a documentary some years ago. I wanted to explore their problems, but not do the old put them together, split them apart, put them back together story, although there is a little of that, and will be more in the third book, if it ever gets written. The thing is, I’ve lost confidence in the story. I have no idea if it is any good or whether I should even continue editing or writing more of it. I have another story that I stopped writing at 20K even though I had ideas for the rest of the story. I did write another story which was supposed to be a short Christmas tale, my first May/December story, which turned into 60K words and not quite so light and fluffy. Finishing it was hard, and I’ve no idea whether it worked as I haven’t dared read it back. And, all the time, I keep telling myself, why bother with any of them when no one reads them anyway. Making myself edit these stories is increasing my doubt even more, so what do I do?

I know other authors will have gone through this. I don’t want pity, or even to be told, yes, I can write, but I need ideas of how to get through this, and why I should bother. I’m savvy enough to know that outside forces, my arthritis, housing situation, trying to lose some weight, and the death of my brother have affected me and my levels of motivation, but in the past, I’ve been able to overcome my doubts.

This time, I’m not sure I can.


  1. You shouldn't doubt yourself as a writer. I think the bubble has burst on the MM fiction market and that's why sales are low. But if you love it, keep writing in that genre. But why not try a different genre too. A change could give you that spark you need.

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  3. It's simple really. If you still love it, carry on doing it. It doesn't keep the roof over your head and don't worry what other people think. If you're happy doing it, keep going.