Monday, 11 October 2010

Do I enjoy being a writer?

Over the weekend somebody asked me if I enjoyed being a writer. It isn't something I've given much thought to, it is rather like being asked if I enjoy being a woman. It is just something I am.

Of course there have been days when I've said, 'I wish I were a man,' but I think it was a case of the grass being greener over there :) There are also days when I think,' Blow this for a game of soldiers, I shall become a politician or an environmentalist or a gardener,' but I wouldn't really. A writer is what I am and even if I gave up the struggle for publication, I would still be a writer, my stories and characters just wouldn't leave me alone, they demand to be written. I am their servant.

My favourite writing days are rainy ones, which is fortunate for someone living in West Wales. I love being snug indoors while the rain lashes the windows, the dogs snore at my feet and the clock ticks loudly on the mantle piece. It is the only time I am ever 'Just Judy.' I can lose myself in another world. A goodly supply of coffee and a few biscuits and I am happy as Larry - have you ever wondered who Larry is and why he is happy?

I lay awake at night sometimes, worrying about my characters and how I will manoeuvre them through their journey. Or I suddenly realise that I have made a horrible error of some kind and have to get up to fix it or scribble a message to myself in my bedside notebook to fix it first thing. I even enjoy the editing, its like smoothing the rough edges from a carving, shaving unneccessary words and punctuation; honing the manuscript until it is as perfect as I can make it.

When I self published Peaceweaver I enjoyed that too. Reformatting the document to suit the printer, deciding on the cover, (big mistake as it turned out but I live and learn), interacting with other self publishers, stealing their tips and learning from their mistakes, supporting them as they supported me.

I enjoy on-line self-promotion too, like this blog, chatting about my experiences, creating my webpage, making friends on Facebook. If I hadn't formed any exterior contacts I would never have learned how to find an agent, how to make my work stand out. Other writers are immensley supportive and I hope that I return that in some measure. I always try to review and comment constructively and share any tiny snippet of information that may prove valuable to others.

The only aspect of being a writer that I do not enjoy is marketing. I don't like selling myself, it feels like boasting and I dearly wish that people would just stumble across my work and love it.

Being intensely shy is very difficult and it is easy for people to read a lack of self confidence as a lack of belief in my writing, but that assumption is inaccurate. I love my work, I know what I am trying to say and try to say it as concisely and with as much impact as possible. I can do this easily via a keyboard but have recently learned that I am going to have to stand up in a hall full of people and promote my work, read from it and answer their questions.

I have spoken to large audiences before on exterior matters but that is so different to speaking about my writing. My work and the reasons for writing it are intensely personal. In the words of Mick Jagger I am going to have to 'stick my pen in my heart and spill it all over the stage.'
The prospect has me trembling in my boots and I am seriously considering running for the next elections instead :)


  1. Great insight into how, when and where you write.

    I understand where you're coming from on finding events daunting. I feel exactly the same way! But you have to remember that you'll be talking about your book(s), and writing, both things you love, so it's not as if you'll have to make small talk about something which doesn't interest you. Plus, you'll be talking to people who are interested in you and your book, otherwise they wouldn't be there in the first place

    And, hopefully, once you've spoken to people at book signings and smaller events, you'll gain in confidence and the bigger audiences won't be quite so daunting. Besides, a rush of adrenalin is a wonderful free drug!

  2. Hello Judith! I came across your book, Peaceweaver, while looking for an agent for Kathleen Herbert's fourth novel, Moon in Leo. The title caught my eye as it is similar to one of Kathleen's non fiction booklets: Peace-Weavers and Shield-Maidens. Do you know her work? I feel certain you would enjoy it! As for me, I shall be buying a copy of Peaceweaver as part of my next Amazon order, and look forward to reading it.
    For more information about Kathleen, and why I am working on her behalf, see my blog: Get it Written at
    I received a lot of encouragement and support from Reading the Past-
    If you don't know this blog, I think you could benefit from contacting Sarah Johnson. I now feel encouraged to contact your agent, Susan Yearwood. Wish us luck!
    Good luck with all your writing- I shall continue to follow your progress

  3. A thought provoking post and one I can relate to. I loved Peaceweaver and have enjoyed hearing your recent work at our group meetings. Your confidence is gaining. When you speak of your work and tell us about the characters we all hang on your every word, so don't worry about promoting you and your work - just be you!

  4. Hi
    thank you Rachael and Kath, you are both so supportive.
    Connie, I do indeed know Kathleen's non fiction, I have some of her books on my shelf but I didnt know she wrote fiction too. the title Peaceweaver comes from the anglo saxon word Freuduwebbe - Weaver of Peace, applied to women who were married to secure a peace treaty between opposing sides. There were more than you'd like to think!
    As my agent is peddling Peaceweaver to various publishers at the moment, it is no longer available on Amazon, unless via the marketplace but i have a few copies left if you would like one direct from me. you can contact me on
    I will take a look at the blogs you recommend and thank you for your help.