Janey Edkins shares the pain and joy of producing your first book.
I’ve just recently given birth to my first baby – sorry, I mean book! Well that’s a Freudian slip if ever there was one. But seriously, I don’t know about you, but there are some things in life that have a bittersweet double-edged sword to them. In this case I’m referring to two very unique experiences: having a baby first time round and attempting a first novel. Both are equally exhilarating, life-changing in fact, and utterly compelling, but oh dear, so incredibly challenging.
Like an invisible string though you are hauled in and take that leap of faith, hard not to I suppose. And soon enough, you find yourself sucked into the whole process. Not before long, thankfully, angst is rapidly replaced by dizzy joy and an overwhelming cocktail of power and elation. You did it, you are woman, and utterly capable of anything. A bit rocky to begin with, of course; the nausea, the confusion, the self doubt, and possibly in some cases even regret. But it soon settles down and off you go, relishing this new world where you can wool-gather all day about plots and protagonists and – sorry I mean tiny pear-drop fingernails and silky skin, and all-terrain pushchairs and heads turning as you bounce confidently through the shopping mall with your precious bundle ((have sling will travel)pressed protectively to your chest.
Of course we don’t want to think about all that stuff ahead, do we? All that pain. All that pushing! All that embarrassing exposure! It’s so much better to stay cocooned in a fuzzy world of make-believe, where you make the rules, and you call the shots, and even have license to boot your old man out at an ungodly hour to fetch you pickles, and garlic snails and lemon sorbet ice cream to top it off.
But the rosy glow of anticipation can’t last forever. With the backdrop of a sepulchral gong, D day arrives. If ever there was a time you want to turn the clock back, this is it. But you can’t! Oh my Lord you can’t! That tiny seed you allowed to germinate, and nurture, and hold oh so close to your heart has turned into a giant watermelon. And like it or not you’ve got to get it out.
It’s suddenly the Wild West. You’re drowning and gasping and cussing-“I’ll never do it again!” in a voice punctuated with regret.
Fellow authors, sound familiar? Replace the word ‘baby’ with ‘book’ and it may well read like The Secret Confessions of a Mad Novelist. I could go on and bring in a few extra pointers about sleepless nights, and leaky breasts, and more mercurial avowals of “never again” as you drag yourself (eyes drugged with sleep) into a sitting position and grope in Braille-like manner for a milch cow udder. But I think the picture is “got”.
Publishing Walking on Marshmallows has changed me, forever. With stark reality, I can say that I have now gone from a poised, reasonably in-control sort of person to an obsessive, round-shouldered, bitten-down-finger-nailed insomniac whose sole purpose each day, every hour is to press the refresh button on my Amazon account.
But would I do it again? I went on to have two more babies, so yes, absolutely! In fact not only am I doing it, but am into my second “trimester” already. Writing for me is like breathing. Yes, there are days of self doubt and inner conflict. Why would anybody read my work, after all it’s been done a thousand times? But something drove me. And I had to be strident in my approach and force myself to look at it in a different light, and to realise that although it has been done a thousand times, the style and integrity within those pages can be claimed only by me and is unique in its entirety.
It’s a strange business, writing, and certainly not for the faint-hearted. Many in the industry say to survive you have to acquire a thick skin. But I’m going to contradict this because I believe a thick skin would obstruct emotions, and without emotions how could anyone write a feisty, humorous and impassioned piece of work?
So, readers, next time your fingers skim across the book shelves or scroll through Amazon’s maze, spare a thought for us new kids on the block, and try to remember that “known” authors once held the title of “unknown”. They did, honestly. ; )
“She’s always making a complete spectacle of herself”
If Angie’s heard this once, she’s heard it a thousand times. But does she care? Heaven’s no. And why should she? Life is bliss! She has a delicious new husband, a gorgeous little Victorian “doer-upper” and the opportunity of becoming rich beyond her wildest dreams.
Alas, the same can’t be said for Hazel who’s not only lost her job, man and waistline, but the mere will to live. Poor Hazel; it’s eating away at Angie and she simply has to do something about it. Oh dear, famous last words… In typical “Angie” fashion, she devises a cunningly crafted plan. But things go horribly wrong and soon she finds herself not only floundering in a murky pool of malicious accusations and misunderstandings, but trying desperately to hold on to her perfect life.
Janey Edkins was born in Warwickshire, but lived most of her adult life in Africa. After a deep yearning to return home, she upped sticks and returned to her beloved “Blighty”. She now lives in a picturesque village in Rutland where, in between writing, being mum to three utterly delightful daughters and giving fragmented support to her landscape artist partner, she is co-owner of an art gallery and works part time for a classical music producing company.