An honest admission about failing. And then trying again.

24

June 23, 2013 by talkaboutyork

I went to Britmums Live this weekend. For those normal people who don’t blog, you may not know what this is. It is a gathering of about 400 bloggers, mostly mothers but some dads too, who get together for two days to learn all about how to make your blog better, how to work with brands or do technical bits and pieces, be inspired and get new ideas, or simply to catch up with friends who you have ‘met’ online but now get to meet in the flesh. There are always moving or funny (or both) keynote addresses. And cake and wine feature strongly. It’s not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Except that half-way through it, I felt thoroughly meh. Actually, I felt like a complete and utter failure.

Now, that was probably partly due to PMT and my over active self-criticism and under active self-esteem.

But you see, I started blogging in 2008. That’s five years of blogging. Admittedly I haven’t done myself any favours by starting off as Home Office Mum, before becoming More to life than Laundry concurrently, before becoming Talk About York. I’m a marketing person. I know that to be successful, you need to maintain a consistent brand. I haven’t. But even before I made any changes, it took me a long time before anyone really read my blog. Gradually I got a following. But I was never really one of the ‘in crowd’. I perpetually felt like an outsider looking in.

And this weekend, people would look at my name badge and I could tell that 98% of the people there had never ever seen any of my blogs. What’s more (while I’m wallowing in self pity), I wasn’t nominated for any of the awards (never have been). I have never been asked to be a speaker at the event. And I’ve never had one of my blog posts selected to be read out at the crowd-sourced keynote.

All of that I would be ok with. Sort of. But a part of me just thinks, ‘It’s because you’re just not good enough.’

I admit, I don’t do enough to promote my blog. I don’t get involved in many linkys. I don’t tend to do sponsored posts or even many reviews. I don’t spend hours and hours on twitter and I don’t get involved in many of the other social media options that I should. I don’t spend hours on making my blog different or innovative. That hasn’t bothered me. Because my blog is my outlet for getting my thoughts down. Yes I love getting comments and I enjoy reading the blogs of those people I have come to know and really enjoy. But that’s where it ends. I should do more to meet other bloggers, read more. In short, my blog report card would probably say: must try harder.

Listening to a literary agent talk about how much you need to use your blog to help in the publicity of any book that you write, made me realise that it can’t just be a hobby, it has to become a business tool. Which sadly, takes away some of the fun of it.

All of this made me feel a bit down in the dumps.

But it was getting told that my book idea was good (great title, nice concept) but that I needed to take it and pretty much rewrite it from a different angle, that made me feel the most depressed. I am 70, 000 words in, about three chapters away from completing it. I know that it needs a complete rewrite anyway, because it needs to be sharper, slicker, better. But to start over, to change the story so much, well that feels like taking a sledge hammer to a cake I’ve spent hours icing.

What’s more, some of the lovely, talented ladies I spent time with were asked to send their books in to the agent. I wasn’t asked to do that. You can pretty it up any which way you like, it still hurts not to be asked to do that.

I have very kind friends and family who tell me that they love my writing. Even my creative writing tutor who looked after me during my course last year had this to say about my work: ‘Your final scene was perceptive and accomplished, and moved towards a solid climax and relief of tension. The characters were particularly well drawn. I’ve enjoyed teaching you, and I hope you keep writing as you are very talented.’ 

So why then does it feel like I am kidding myself? I know that the literary world is a brutal place where criticism is a daily expectation (actually, getting criticised is a good thing, far better than being ignored, which I think happens even more often). So I need to toughen up or give myself a stern talking to. But then I got a stern talking to from Katie Piper.

This beautiful and incredibly brave woman gave they keynote address on the Saturday morning. She had had acid thrown in her face and was raped. She’s gone on to have a career in TV, has three published books and has set up a charity for burns victims. Her story is massively inspiring. Her positive attitude really made me want to slap myself in the face and say: Man the f*ck up. Stop wallowing. Get over yourself. And try again. And then try some more.

Katie has a book called ‘Start your day with Katie’, which contains a daily motivational saying. One of them is ‘Today is a new day, a new start  – no matter what happened yesterday.’

So that’s what I’m going to think when I sit down with my novel tomorrow. It is a new day. No matter what has happened in the last five years of blogging, I am going to keep writing.

If in the end it all turns out that I am not made to be a novelist, I can die without wondering ‘what if.’

***

Thank you to Tattie Weasel, Potty Mummy, American Resident, Mum’s Gone To, Caroline of Lunchboxworld and Secrets of the Sandpit for keeping me company throughout the weekend. And Knackered Mother’s Wine Club, it was lovely to meet you and I feel I am your perfect target audience!

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24 thoughts on “An honest admission about failing. And then trying again.

  1. jo says:

    Argh! If I’d known you were going I’d have said hello – I’ve posted comments on here before and have you followed (not literally, just in my rss reader) – I missed your pre-BritMums post as we had a manic few days beforehand, so I’ve over a thousand posts to catch up on – sorry I missed you!

    • Likewise Jo. It is so hard as there are soooooooooooo many people there. I kept seeing people who I thought I knew and then realised that I only knew them from their avatars that I had seen online and kept wondering if they knew me.

  2. Trish says:

    It’s enough just to read this to know you are a talented writer. All the posts from you which pop into my inbox are always, without fail, well-written and engaging. I’m relieved to hear Katie Piper gave you a good talking to!
    Thanks for being my buddy on Friday. I still owe you a few quid for the taxi :-)

    • Thank you lovely. And thanks for being my buddy too! No worries about the taxi. Take it as a thank you for not making me arrive there alone. Sorry I missed your travel blogging session – I had to leave to get back for a ball in York.

      • Trish says:

        Ha! Snap! I had to leave just after the travel blogging session to go to a ball at home in Spalding. I managed to get on the 2pm train.

  3. judithkingston says:

    Seriously, you are an excellent writer. I always look forward to your posts and I am sure your novel is going to be brilliant. But there are so many things that can go wrong on the way to a great book, and so much rewriting goes into it. I sadly abandoned my most recent (70,000 word) novel because I realised only after writing it that I had made the wrong person the main character – and I just couldn’t face redoing the entire tyhing. Like you said, like taking a sledge hammer to a cake you’ve spent days icing. I decided to just leave the cake for what it was and make a new one.

  4. we all get told how rejection is and how you have to be tough as a writer, but it’s not easy.
    Any way – for what it’s worth I thought your idea was great and I would not just give up after speaking to one. Work on your pitch and send it to a few different agents – what have you got to lose? and if you do have to rewrite it – you will still be much further than those of us who haven’t even started yet. Just keep trying. don’t give up!

    • Thanks Chene – I wanted to mention you in my list of people who were my buddies for the weekend but I couldn’t find your details. I was hoping to find you via twitter so you just made life easy! Lovely to meet you – and good advice. Thank you fellow South African :-)

  5. Don’t forget about me! One of your dinner party! For what it’s worth I thought your idea was great too. And to me, it did not sound like an absolute no from the agent’s comments you told us. I know it is hard. Sometimes you wonder.. but I think you have to grab that silver lining if you can and hang on to the good points they said. I know exactly where you are coming from. My business has been going since Spring 2009, gets some PR, blog too…I have a background in marketing and PR and wonder why I never appear to get that noticed… However I will continue to plug away and will give it all a huge try. I still think we should start up the Prefects Club! Or some other fancy name as we were a group of 5 ladies having dinner together, all with totally absent-on-occasion-hubbies… #justsaying We must have a meet-up again! virtual or real as I appreciate we are all scattered!
    We’re all behind you! Caroline / The Lunchbox lady x

    ps at least you get comments…

    • Oh Caroline, I did forget to put your link on. I will edit that immediately. I didn’t forget you were there though! It was lovely to meet you too and thank you for your kind comments. Agree – we should have another meet up. virtual or real. And if you ever want to brainstorm ideas to PR your business then let me know. I spent five years specialising in PR for the parenting space and while I know your products aren’t limited to kids lunch boxes, I’d be happy to help. xx

      • that would be brilliant! Always having to be creative with budgets is a challenge! Would welcome some advice – some quick wins would be good to know!
        Just a thought for you – have you thought about writing about your sailing experience? would love to read it if you did… x

      • I have just sent you an email with a bunch of ideas. I have considered writing about the sailing thing. I might do that next. x

  6. barbedwords says:

    I’ve only been blogging for a couple of months and your blog was one of the first ones I followed. Your posts are always well written, interesting and often very funny. Glad to hear you’re going to keep going with the book. Even if you do decide to start a new novel, well at least you’ve got 70,000 words of experience to bring to everything else you write!

    • Thank you – and you’re right, I do have 70,000 words of experience! I have wanted to look at your blog for a while as you regularly ‘like’ my posts but I couldn’t find a link to yours. Now that you have commented, I can see your URL so will take a look!

  7. Grenglish says:

    70,000 words?! I DREAM of 70,000 words! Don’t feel blue, you ARE a very talented writer plus you have the necessary discipline to get the words down. You are already way ahead of most of us wannabe novelists :-)

  8. TheBoyandMe says:

    I honestly think that the blogging conference had more people that hadn’t heard of each others’ blogs than the well-known ones. I know I went through the list of the finalists and knew about half of them. It just goes to show that the blogging world is wide and diverse.

  9. I know how you feel (although yes I have won a couple of awards in the past) – this year I fell ill and wasn’t on people’s radar as much and it’s noticeable. I know how much work some of the bloggers put into their social media activities, so it’s not that I think it’s unfair either, it’s just that a little tiny part of me wants people to love my blog so much that I don’t have to work hard at pimping it ;o)
    You are right – I knew the other names of your blogs, but not this one, so it’s just a matter of time and people picking up this name too.

  10. Tattie Weasle says:

    You write and you keep on at it! Just so long as you keep on loving it too. I am still trying to work out after six years of blogging what the heck I am doing – I was certainly inspired by everyone I met and I had a great time. So glad I met you!!!!

  11. I was really sad to miss – you would have loved to have said hello IRL. I’ve loved reading all your blogs FWIW and I still miss Home Office Mum :)

  12. […] too hard to be different things and not really being anything. Feedback I received from an agent at Britmums made me second guess it. I decided to take the summer holidays off before considering a second […]

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