The writing life is a tough one at any point in your career, but as a writer who has not yet achieved that elusive debut novel it seems like a never-ending struggle to be heard. So much has been achieved these last twelve months, and yet hardly anything at all. But I choose to carry on despite the stress of it, the horrible suspicion that actually I cannot write at all and I'm wasting precious time. But it is time I must take, because to achieve what I want is going to take time and unfortunately, nothing has ever come to me easily; it's just taken me a while to accept that the novel, as with everything else, will happen when it's good and ready.
In 2016 the novel went out to agents twice. That is to say, it went out on two rounds of submissions. Between March-August I received two calls for the full MS, and I even met one agent. In the end it wasn't a right fit, but knowing in round one I managed to get any agent interest at all gave me a boost of confidence. But in round two between August-December I had no takers, though the rejections I received were positive abstracts rather than a one line, straight up 'NO'. Despite this, by winter my confidence had flagged and I realised the painful truth - the novel was not going to sell as it was. I needed to make a drastic change - one that wasn't historically factual - and create something that veered off slightly from my original concept. This both excited and terrified me in equal measure. The amount of work needed was daunting and I ended up getting frustrated and despondent (do I dare say the other D word?) - not just with the novel but with everything else that had crept up on me in the meantime. My current role in Higher Education was announced as being made redundant in August last year, the subsequent job hunt wasn't going well, my flat was burgled, and it really did seem like all the dominoes had fallen spectacularly flat with a mighty crescendo. It stopped my productivity, the academic papers I'd begun to draft for three Romantic conferences that year fell on the wayside, and I removed myself from social media for a while just so I didn't have to see - what felt like - everyone else's successes as opposed to my failures. Yes, I really was feeling that melodramatic.
The current update, in short? I'm still not any nearer to getting published than I was twelve months ago. As per usual, I have a long way to go. I haven't touched the novel since February and won't likely touch it again now until the summer. I know what needs to be done, but the desperateness I felt before has waned now I feel a little less trapped. The agent, the publishing deal... it'll come when it comes. I'm not going to even put a time limit on myself now. I must simply learn patience, put less pressure on myself, have a little bit of faith, and trust that everything will work itself out in the wash.