BlogAs a teacher, I know and appreciate the value of feedback. It can make or break a student. For students to make progress, to stay engaged, to feel inspired, feedback is vital and it has to be timely, meaningful and constructive. As someone ex-army I know that feedback can get a little shouty but it’s the sort of predictably, abusive commentary that keeps you on your feet and you learn (the hard way) to appreciate. For an author feedback is in another league…

For starters, each time you show up and hand someone your creative work, you are effectively putting your neck on the block, waiting for the axe to swing…and sometimes you have to be prepared to wait with your guts in your mouth smiling not puking nor showing any sign whatsoever of impatience accepting the blank wall of silence with good grace for as long as it takes which can seem interminable. The agents and publishers’ prerogative is that they may keep you hanging, strung up like a plucked pheasant for…well…forever. Sometimes of course, as we aspiring authors are regularly told (and forewarned is forearmed) they leave your maggot-infested corpse to rot.

And then, if, IF your writing is published, you get to be an open target, running naked in a Hunger Games scenario, wondering whether your bare arse is going to provide some caustic critic, bloodthirsty blogger or joyless journo their next meal.  Seriously, who’d want to be a bloody author?

As an aspiring wannabe contestant in this crazy world of writing, I’m already scared, preparing to be scarred – and that’s only if I’m one of the chosen ones.

Last year, I finished writing my first ever novel. It was a little Frankenstein-esque I’ll admit, but dipping a toe in the piranha-infested water, I sent it out to one agent and one publisher. There wasn’t so much as a nibble and perhaps I should be thankful, but I wasn’t. I won a prize for the opening action in my novel – it whetted my appetite for more praise, but I got stuck in the mire of editing. I participated in a recommended and (in my somewhat frustrated and impotent view) over-rated online editing your novel course, in order for my novel to shine enough to blind anyone lucky enough to read it. Unfortunately, it so bedazzled that I was the only one of my cohort not to receive a comment from the Powers-that-be running the show. Again, I’m trying to accept that as no bad thing. After all, for the most part, I have my head well and truly below the parapet. In my white feathered nest I keep writing, honing my craft, attending courses, talking and collaborating with fellow writers, attending festivals and conferences and…

Here’s the rub, the grit in my shoe: I’ve spent so much time preparing myself for battle – dpms (distorted-pattern-material  – combat trousers for those of you not in the know), cam-cream (warpaint), weapon (aka novel) loaded and cocked – that I now, finally, find myself in a strange position – heart jitterbugging, palms sweating – ready for a little action.

This year I say, bring it on! This is my declaration of war: in 2018 I shall brave the battlefield and fire out my mark-2 manuscript, (‘A Binding of Book Lovers’ in case you were wondering) to a few more unsuspecting targets and wait to see if they respond. You may be one of them. Lucky, lucky you – at least you are not me, crawling belly-down in the scrubland, all-seeing but unseen.

But go ahead, fling your ammo my way, scatter your shrapnel and let’s see who’s left standing.

I suppose that means I’ll have to get off my belly…if

I wanna be an author.

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