Knowing When to Quit: Mental Health Awareness Week

Part of writing is knowing when to stop. At all stages of the process. I wrote my heart out in 2017, and I edited with all of my soul in 2018, but in 2019 I’ve had to face up to the fact I may have reached the end of the line with my fantasy novel (I have a couple more avenues to explore, never say never, but for now I’m going to move on).

It’s heart breaking beyond measure because I love this book and all of its characters, but that’s the business I’m in. As an author I’ve had to realise my book is currently not enough to stand out in a very VERY crowded market. I have re-written it four times in the past two years and overhauled the pitch more than I can count, but that doesn’t change the market.

Therefore, Trystan and Eris will remain as a file on my computer, for my eyes to read whenever I please, but for that alone until a point farther in the future. The Pairing Fire is not the one to take me onto being a published author just yet. (And no, I’m not self-publishing.)

I’m beyond proud of myself for creating this story and for everything it’s brought me—even if the journey we went on wasn’t quite what I hoped for. Still, I was accepted into the Write Mentor programme with this book, I’ve met so many amazing people, and these words kept me going during some of the most hopeless few months of my life. A time when I desperately needed something good to cling to. For that alone I shall never regret my first foray into fantasy. It certainly won’t be my last.

The worst part, however, is not the fact I’m putting away a book I’ve fallen so deeply in love with. It’s the fact I’ve let a lot of people down with this one. I didn’t craft this book alone—my mentor worked tirelessly last summer to help me with edits and my critique partners were angels. Sadly, I couldn’t repay the time they invested in me, but I shall work myself to the bone on my next project to make it up to them all. One day I’ll prove the naysayers wrong. One day (*chants “publishing is a marathon not a sprint” whilst rocking in the corner with my hands over my ears*).

If this was the first book I’d shelved I reckon I’d be able to shrug it off—move onto something else tomorrow and chalk it all up to practice. The Pairing Fire is in fact my fourth shelved book. The fifth I’ve written (there’s still hope for my ‘Brexit on crack’ novel). I write because I need to but with each book the dream of having readers, of holding my published book in my hands, slips farther and farther away. I’ll keep trying anyway.

I know this isn’t the end of the line for me. I will get there. I have to believe that because at this point I literally have nothing else to believe in and no-one else to believe for me. If anything there’s a lot of people who’d be more than happy to see me stop this ‘writing thing’ all together. I also know it’s dumb as fuck to grieve for a bunch of words on a page forming the story of people I made up in my own damn head (seriously, it’s a book, Rebecca!) but what can I do? I can only keep working, keep improving, and keep writing.

Anyway, to finish I’m giving Eris and Trystan an encore, in the form of a piece of art work I had commissioned as a celebration to myself for getting chosen for Write Mentor. Back when I had disposable income. Trystan and Eris, my little fictional beans, take a bow (it won’t be your last!). Click on the picture to go read the first page and query on the Write Mentor site if you’re interested.

Having made the decision to put TPF aside, for now, has actually made me feel a little better. It’s given me some motivation for other projects back. I’m not waiting anymore, I’ve made a decision, and now I need to move forwards. Back to work, Gibson.E&T White.png

[Follow the artist on Instagram via @monolimeart (she’s worked with Sarah J. Maas!) and me @TheRGibson while you’re in the area anyway.]

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