Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Hardest Step

By Jay Stringer

We've almost done it. We've almost made it through 2014. This year did it's best to drive me nuts, but only a few more hours to go and we're into 2015.

I'm writing this as I take a wee break from edits on a novel. This is the book I wrote earlier this year, and I'm acting on some notes from super agent to try and get it knocked into shape in these last few hours of 2014 so that I can start the next book fresh in January. The new blank page.

What did I get done this year?

Well, my writing year was shortened by a medically-enforced  two month break from the keyboard, but I got done most of what I wanted. I signed a deal for the book I wrote in 2013, and turned around the copy edits on it. I wrote a new book from scratch, currently titled Criminals. I've written the first draft of a comic script for a pitch, and the six issue outline to go with it. I wrote a draft of a secret project I'm working on with Russel. I've started a podcast. I wrote a piece about the Scottish referendum on my own website that had 20k hits in a week, and I wrote a piece about dyslexia for Panels.net that had a great reception.

I also attended Harrogate for the first time, and followed that up with my Bouchercon debut. Provisionally for 2015 I'm expecting to be at the London Book Fair, Harrogate and Bouchercon again.

I also managed to get more politically active than I had been for a long time. I stood up for something. It went......cough.....it went the same way it's always done whenever I've stood up for something politically, but it reminded me of why we do it, and why I need to keep doing it. 

Even through the stresses, hassles and long breaks we manage to throw at ourselves during a year, I managed to get a fair amount done. I seem -and whisper this quietly enough that the neurotic side of my brain can't hear- to have found a groove. I manage to write a book a year. I manage to fit in other projects around that. I manage to get by.

The challenge is to raise my game again.

Here's a random piece of advice, and it's something I wrote back when I announced my first book deal. Writers, especially those of you out there who are only just starting out, maybe making a new years resolution to write a book in 2015. Or those of you who have finished a book and are searching for an agent or a publisher. Or maybe those like myself, who are a few books into this thing we laughingly call a 'career' and still manage to find ways to worry. Everyone, all remember this;

Each step is the hardest step.   

The next thing feels like the toughest. But the thing before felt like the toughest, and you still managed it.

There was a time when writing a book, ONE book, felt like the greatest challenge of my life. Then I wrote one. Then finding an agent looked scary, but I have one of the best. A book deal? Not happening. But it happened. There was a time when writing a book a year felt like something that only other people could do, but I now write a book a year.

The two biggest challenges ahead of me next are to earn all of my income from writing, and to be able to write two books a year. Right now, they both feel big and impossible, but fuck it, I'll get there.

And the same goes for you. Whatever the thing in front of you right now, it's huge. The next step in your career will always be the hardest step. But don't run from that, don't put it off, just embrace it. That's part of writing.


Scott D. Parker said...

Congrats on your productive year. I'm glad your found a groove. I might've found one, too. Only time will tell. I concur with the idea that the next step is the hardest. Good luck on your 2015 goals!

Dana King said...

Well done, sir. You have a keen understanding of how to keep things in perspective, which may be the most important skill of all.