By Anna Bell
When I started writing, I hated hearing from those who judged my dream of becoming a published author and told me that I was wasting my time. It was a good job I didn’t listen to those dream quashers as I wouldn’t be where I was now if I had, but the trouble is, I may have inadvertently become one. A dream quasher that is.
Instead of inspiring friends around me to write, I’ve actually put them off. I was at lunch recently with a good friend – she’s a prolific reader with a great imagination – and I asked her if she would ever write a book. She admitted that she’d always fancied writing a YA novel, but having seen what I went through to get published she said she’d realised that writing a novel was only the tip of the iceberg. It made her think twice about trying. I tried to convince her that thinking about getting published shouldn’t put her off and perhaps she should try writing it just for fun – the very thing that used to drive me nuts when people dismissed my writing as a mere hobby!
Last year, when I moved into my village, one of the residents enthused about a children’s book she wanted to write and how she wanted to pick my brains about self-publishing it. I wasn’t very enthusiastic, not because I thought her concept or her story sounded bad, but just because I knew from knowing other authors who have self-published illustrated books how difficult it could be. My neighbour wanted to self-publish a paperback book (something I know nothing about) and I tried to explain how much easier it is – comparatively – to publish a non-illustrated book on Amazon. I felt really bad afterwards. At that point I didn’t know our neighbour very well, and it felt like I was being overly negative, but all I was trying to explain was how difficult it might be. I was delighted when I got an email from Amazon recently to explain their new application, which makes self-publishing children’s books a lot easier. I sent the link to my neighbour and I hope it will make her realise that I wasn’t trying to bring her down with her dream.
It’s funny as I spend a lot of my time online trying to support people I know on Twitter and Facebook with their writing dreams. It seems odd that in person I seem to do the opposite. The only thing I can think of, in terms of difference, is that people online tend to already be writing and are trying to get published, whereas people I know in real-life often haven’t taken the first step and started writing. This is a harder place to start. I genuinely think that I wouldn't have started to write a novel if I knew how hard it was going to be to get it published. Luckily when I started, I talked to no one, put pen to paper, and by the time I tried to do anything I’d caught the writing bug.
Sometimes I think I forget how daunting those first steps into writing can be, and how important it is to have support and encouragement as you take them. I’m definitely going to be more mindful of that in the future. Have you ever inadvertently been a dream quasher?