So, here we are. My book's being published this week and I finally get to irritate people by starting conversations with 'Well, as a published author...'
It's easy to forget everything it took to get here. The late nights, typing away and getting frustrated at just how bad my story was, are easy to justify now I get to hold the book. Staying home while friends went out seems like an easy choice now I know it all worked out. At the time, though, they were immensely difficult decisions. I had low moments when I wanted to throw my laptop across the room and long periods when I didn't write a word because of course it was pointless, and of course I was rubbish, and obviously this stupid dream had to come to an end.
Those moments – ones that I know other writers are going through right now - are exactly why I wanted to write this post. I know what I needed to be told back then, and I know what I want to tell others right now: Don't give up, because it will be worth it.
Writing means loneliness a lot of the time. It does mean sitting by yourself late at night, feeling like you're kidding yourself and the world is laughing. Sometimes it means tension with friends and family who don't understand that you can't come to the pub. Writing's not a good excuse in their eyes - why can't you just be cool?
Don't stop. Write. It will be worth it.
Success isn't something you can measure on a scale. For some, finishing the book will be success. Others will self-publish, and that will be success. Others will go the traditional method. Some will make money, and others don't need to. Those things aren't as important as making sure you do the writing, do the work, and get to a place where you can look back, smile, and know you did well.
It will be worth it.
Edgar Albert Guest, an American poet, put it better than I can in his poem It Couldn't Be Done. The last stanza goes like this:
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.
That might seem cliché, but sometimes it's important to hear that you shouldn't give up. Writing a book is a big thing, and in the ocean of words that makes up modern life, it's tempting to feel insignificant and small and easily swallowed. To that, I say this: Keep going, word by word, line by line, and ignore the world when you need to.
Books aren't written in a day, and if - when - you get to where you need to be, you can look back and count the bad days and the good days together, knowing you powered through, fought the good fight, and kept going.
And it will be worth it.
Simon's debut children's novel, Eren, will be published September 2014 by Constable & Robinson, an imprint of Little, Brown. In the run up to publication, Simon has launched Eren Tales, a year-long collaborative project with photographer Brandon Rechten. Learn more at www.erentales.com, or visit Simon's website.