Writing

Life Behind The Scenes

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Oh dear, there are veritable cobwebs on my blog. I may have forgotten how to drive this thing, but let’s give it a go.

This year has been a lot of upheaval, personally and professionally. Yet, thankfully, in these final few weeks of 2019 I can look back and see that I’ve done the best thing for me, stayed true to myself and got through what I needed to get through. I imagine that for most of you, your year has been a similar journey of ups and downs and I sincerely hope that you’ve all come to trust yourselves more as a result.

January saw me get an email in response to a submission I’d sent out. They wanted to see more. So, in March I got the phone call I never thought I would get. An editor from Penguin Random House had read my writing and wanted to work with me. I tried to keep my expectations from going off the charts, but after a half hour on the phone to London, I allowed myself to believe that things were indeed, looking up.

I spent the next few months sketching out a story idea and eventually writing some sample chapters. The feedback was positive and I was asked to prepare a chapter breakdown and synopsis to present to ‘the team’, all with a view to putting a contract in place. A CONTRACT!!! The summer came and went and I waited to hear back. During this time, I gave myself permission to start dreaming about how this would all play out. I thought, ‘come on Evie, stop being so cautious all the time, it’s actually happening!’ Then in September I got the email I never could have anticipated. The editor was switching jobs and taking up a position with a different publisher. My story had, as a result, fallen between the cracks.

I was devastated. I had never been so close to signing with a major publisher. And I was angry at how precarious this industry can be for authors. Angry that the biggest break of my writing career was just, over and for everyone else, it was just another day in publishing. It was tough to take.

It was nobody’s fault and in time I even began to see the silver lining –  if my writing had impressed the editors at Penguin, I must be doing something right! And if I’m honest, I’ve learned a lot about myself and what it means to be a writer through this experience. I learned the difference between working with a multi-national publisher and an independent publisher. There are compromises you have to make, no matter which path you choose; creative freedom, royalties, etc. I also learned how some decisions are taken away from you entirely and all you can do is make peace with it and move on. I was reminded of what really mattered to me; telling a story I’m passionate about.

On a more personal level, I got a new kitchen!! Finally. This has been on my wish-list for ages, but I was dreading the inevitable chaos. Anyone out there who has revamped their kitchen will feel my pain and sense of achievement on this one 😀 It seemed to go on forever, and I had to become the project manager of at least four different tradesmen, as well as qualifying in amateur kitchen design. What did I learn? NOTHING GOES TO PLAN, but most things will get sorted, more or less! Also, there’s something you don’t expect when doing work on your house – it’s like doing work on yourself. The cluttered old kitchen I had was, unbeknownst to me, making me really unhappy. But now, with my new streamlined kitchen, I just feel good about myself; like, investing in my home was investing in me.

Physically, it’s been hard to write (which is another reason the blog has taken a back seat). I have an old injury that’s been causing me pain, but this year, I found someone who is really helping to literally straighten me out! I won’t go into the gory details, but it’s been a challenge, mentally and physically. I know I’m not alone in this too – everyone is dealing with something and I really wish that you find the path to good health. I know so many writers and bloggers who keep on writing despite chronic conditions that may or may not be visible. Well, let me say that I see you and I am inspired by you!

A high point of my year was featuring in The Gloss Magazine . So many of my favourite authors have taken part in the ‘Writer’s Block’ series, so I was delighted to be asked. It was the most in-depth interview I’ve ever done and it was an amazing opportunity to delve into my past and the inspiration behind my writing career. I was a bit apprehensive about putting myself in the spotlight, but someone told me that they felt they got to know me better after reading it, so I’m glad I was able to show a more personal side. The cherry on top was Sophie Grenham’s introduction to the piece, which I’m still smiling about! I feel really fortunate, as an indie writer, to be featured in the mainstream media in Ireland. It just goes to show that, at the end of the day, the story is all that matters.

gloss

 

Through all the ups and downs, my family have been an amazing support, as always. It’s funny, when I look at those author bio’s that say ‘Jenny lives in Wicklow with her husband and two kids and twelve labradors’, I worry that mine looks a bit empty. Evie lives with herself and has grown ridiculously fond of her own space! But it’s true. I like my life and being single just makes me appreciate the relationships I do have even more. And if that isn’t success, I don’t know what is. Or as Maya Angelou put it,

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So, that’s my year, or some of it anyway. I don’t think you really need to hear about the time I got my hair chopped and dyed some AWFUL colour so now I’m wearing lots of hats!! Oh, and I wish I could tell you the exciting news my publisher just gave me about The Story Collector, which is nothing short of an early Christmas present, but alas, I’ve been sworn to secrecy (again). Either way, I feel like I should end this with a song. Music always gets me through – no matter the sitch, there’s a song for it. So I’ve been listening to this one a lot, which is all about having strong foundations and belief that you can get through all of life’s storms.

Do You Believe_

 

PS. Kenny’s Bookshop in Galway (my favourite indie book store!) has The Story Collector on special offer at the moment and FREE WORLDWIDE DELIVERY!! Get it here 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Life Behind The Scenes

  1. Love reading your blogs Evie. I could do with updating my own as well 🙂 I feel for you over the Penguin publisher issue. What bad luck. Hopefully, the editor will come back to you and perhaps take you to their new publishing house. As always though, you’ve remembered that the love of the story is the most important. I’m feeling the same way about my completed novel that I promised myself I would submit to agents. While the story is well written and beta readers love it, it seems it’s not commercial enough for anyone to take a chance on.

    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, and here’s to lots of great writing in the new year. Looking forward to hearing your news about The Story Collector as well. Thoroughly enjoyed that book.

    1. Thanks Amanda, lovely to hear from you! Ah yes, that word – commercial. It really is a paradox for us writers, because publishers say they want an original idea, but what they really want is something exactly the same as their last bestseller. Only different. But essentially the same 🙄 And it’s difficult to be creative and keep your integrity while also trying to tailor your submission in such a way that you stand a better chance of getting published. But, thems the breaks. Wishing you a very happy Christmas too, and thanks again for all the support and community ❤️

  2. That’s quite a year you’ve been having right enough, Evie! I like your take on your almost getting your deal over the line. Frustrating waiting and disappointing deniuement – for now! But there is also promise and progress there too and like Amanda says, they could well be back! Hope they are! Good luck in 2020

    1. Ah thanks Enda, never a dull moment! I had kept it to myself, but then I thought, why not be open about what actually happens? So much has to be kept secret and then when things don’t work out, you don’t want to publicise it. Best wishes to you too for the coming year, and hope you have a lovely Christmas 🙂

      1. Thank u so much for your good wishes. Here’s wishing you make that final leap. I think with your attitude there are always positived to take. And reasons to stay writing!😀

  3. Well done on a great year, Evie! Sorry the deal with the Penguin fell through, but I have no doubt there will be other offers. Your new kitchen looks delightful and I’m very happy to hear you’re sorting out your pain. Here’s to a wonderful 2020 for us all! ❤

    1. Hiya June! Good to hear from you 🙂 Yes, it was a bit of a sucker-punch, but after two solid months of feeling very sorry for myself, I got over it. Hope things are going well for you and your writing and best wishes for 2020 to you too (and a Christmas with LOTS of yummy food – speaking of, any interesting recipes from your corner of the world??) xx

  4. Congratulations on the ‘almost’ with Penguin, Evie – it shows things are moving in a brilliant direction for you. I had an ‘almost’ situation in 2018, and although it was so exciting, I swear it was the most discombobulating year I’ve ever had.
    Have a wonderful 2020 – it sounds like it’s already off to a great start for you. And enjoy Christmas in your lovely new kitchen! x

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