Continuing Personal Development…

A while back I was feeling pretty unsuccessful.  I don’t sell a lot of books and for some reason I equate the number of books that I do sell with my personal sense of achievement. That hasn’t changed… I have.

Since we moved to this town, I’ve been feeling very low and trying to write when my brain refuses to focus and co-operate with my muse is almost impossible. I started doing various art & craft courses – mostly to get myself out of the house and talking to adults more. I was also trying to keep my hand in with the techniques so that I could teach them if I ever went back to work (I’m a Design & Technology / Art & Design Teacher remember?)

One thing that the courses have done is give me more confidence in my own abilities. Writing is a very solitary pursuit and I had thought that doing the courses would stop me writing, but  practising my other creative skills and socialising with people face to face, other than just with Writers and Artists online,  I found it revved up my writing muse and I found that I was managing to write something on my WIP’s every day.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my online friends; they stop me going crazy and make me feel better about myself, but the face to face interaction makes me feel less like a hermit.

So here I am nearly at the end of may, with over 50,000 words into Teacups & Time Travel. I’ve also written a flash story and a short story for two different anthologies (although I have no idea if they’ve got in or not) and I’m working on another one. I’ve also started looking at my blogsite here and my branding etc in the hope that I can improve my chances of selling my work, using the Panoptic Foundations Website Planner.

I’m not going to be going back into teaching for a long while – and when I do, it’s almost certainly going to be Adult Education rather than Secondary Education; it’s not that I don’t like teaching kids (I do) but I need the freedom to be able to teach what I want and how I want, rather than having to stick to the Curriculum that the Dept of Ed force on us and I find the other side of Secondary education (marking, reports, politics etc) far too stressful to enjoy the Teaching side.

So I’m going to continue writing and publishing. I’m going to continue taking courses, crafting and designing… and hopefully between the two, my sense of achievement will latch onto something other than my sales figures!

Poverty, Food and Politics…

Before I start, I want you to go and read this blog – believe me it’s worth it!

You may remember that  until a year ago, my family and I were considered Homeless by the local government. We’d been kicked out of the Privately Rented house that we’d lived in for 13 years; the Landlord having decided to sell the house because they couldn’t be bothered to rent it out anymore.

I’m not going to speculate the real reason that the Landlord wanted us out – it’s too depressing.

We were put into Temporary Accommodation by the council (due to my partner’s disability and the autism of 2 of our 3 children) that happened to be a fairly decent house. We were lucky in that we also had a lot of support from various agencies (again because of the disabilities in the household) so our poverty level wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

We still had to subsist on Ready Meals and Takeaways though – the Temp Accomodation didn’t have a cooker until the Kid’s Social Worker raised the roof and insisted that the council buy one for the house!

We eventually got the house we are now living in and I am pleased to say that we’re settling in nicely (it takes a while for Autistic People to settle in anywhere) and making plans to decorate etc.
That isn’t to say that we are out of the woods financially yet.
Not even going back into Teaching would do that at the moment – until I can drive and afford the car insurance hike; until I can update my subject and education skills so that I’m considered worth employing; until I can afford the childcare that full time work would require (for two of my four children) and until I can be certain that my disabled partner will be able to look after himself here without needing a constant companion.

The UK Govt seem determined to push us back down with their policies – nothing I have seen coming out of Westminster appears to be designed to help those of us at this end of the wealth spectrum. The money is being removed from the system designed originally to support those of us who found ourselves in this sort of situation.

Jack Monroe, other chefs and cooks can work miracles with basic ingredients, but without the money to buy the ingredients or pay for the energy and equipment needed to actually cook those ingredients, thousands of people below the Poverty Line won’t be able to use the recipes. Austerity policies are causing this and nothing is getting better for many people in Poverty.

Until the Politicians do something about it that is.

What’s the point?

I spend my days trying to write – I have to work around small children, big children, housework, appointments… nothing all that unusual really. There are authors who have full time jobs and still manage to publish books (whether trad or indie, it doesn’t matter) at least once a year.

I frequently come back to this question: What is the point of me busting a gut to get a book finished, edited, covered and published, if no one is going to buy it?

I’m nothing in the publishing world, a nobody, yet my work still gets used as bait for pirate sites.
I’ve run promotions, freebies, have a patreon page… yet I never see an uptick in sales that other authors see.
I’ve had various social media accounts, I have a FB fan page and I interact with everyone who bothers to talk to me on social media.
I’ve pared my publishing costs down to the nub and I still have no money to pay for them, because I have no sales. I put free stories up on my blog and put patron only content out on my patreon page. I see little return for the effort…

What is the Point?

I’m a lone voice shouting into a football stadium… an olympic sized athletics stadium… a world  of other creators, some of whom are better at what we do than I am, some who are different to what I do… each one having their place in the din.

Many are louder than others, having had a boost from lots of fans finding their work or from being traditional to start and becoming hybrid.
Some of them are loud because they have a publishing house behind them – something that everyone in the stadium could have if they measured up to the exacting standards that the publishing houses have and can guarantee sales of their work so that the publishing houses can make money to pay for the things that make that author loud.

Against this I shout… and I help others to shout, recommending their work because I love their writing and characters and stories. I join my voice to theirs because we are all in this together, a community of people who have the same passion for words and stories.

What is the point though?
Is there a point?

Is it to be a best seller and be rich enough to write for a living?

Is it to express yourself?

Is it to tell stories for others to enjoy?

Whatever it is, you have to decide for yourself…

…and then you have to decide if that point is enough to cover all the heartache and soul searching that publishing brings, if the money from each book is enough to pay for the next one to be produced.

The Point?

What is the point?