It is easy to live in the land of ‘I Cannot’ or ‘I Dare Not’ or ‘A Secure Income Comes First’…
It is easy to put dreams and visions on hold indefinitely because of material-based fear. It is hypnotically simple to fill the money bank with wages, and allow the repository of creation to lie fallow and empty year after year.
But of course it is never as simple as ‘Either, or…’ is it? Few people can genuinely escape the cash economy we live in. Few people are born rich enough to duck under the wire of earning a wage and cavort in the fields of privilege which lie beyond.
Writing is my passion – and, if I were an hereditary heiress, possessed of millions, I would be able to make my passion a hobby, something done simply for my own pleasure and soul satisfaction – and, with luck, something which others could enjoy free.
But the reality for me, as for most creative people, is that the need to create comes hand-in-hand with the need to make a living that involves money. Desire and reality tend to be uneasy bedfellows in this respect.
Because my Vision/Reality percentage tends to drift all too easily to the former, I can sell myself very short indeed when it comes to the latter. I have a tendency to float and flitter and postpone and put things off. I have a secret cache of ‘It’ll happen one day…’ thoughts which allow me to disengage from true involvement in the life and future of my own books.
But the miracle can only happen with my commitment, my concerted effort, my being willing to lay down the cloak of the dreamer for a while and bring out the book seller’s hat.
And that involves something very difficult for me: troubling others; asking for help; interrupting people – both know and unknown – in their daily lives to flag up my novels.
I have created this barrier. I, therefore, am the only one who can successfully leap it – and that involves vaulting over every tiny hurdle even if the one before has caught me a painful thwack on the calves or tripped me up. It means keeping going to the end of the track regardless.
As I have said before, this is the most demanding and confronting part of the whole process for me. Writing is a doddle in comparison.
I think part of it, for all of us, is that our books are like our children – and, of course, like aspects of our insecure, childlike selves – and, therefore, it is terribly tempting to protect them from rejection and hurt, to keep them at home and never let them out just in case someone laughs at, or dislikes, them.
But miracles both tiny and huge take place when we let our real children go into the world to become who they are meant to be – and I feel sure the same is true for the precious children of our literary wombs.
So, I have, once again, organised a five day download (a bit like a trial run at a nursery for a toddler, I guess!) for ‘Strictly Come Laughing!’ It starts today – and I am both anxious and excited, as I was when I took my son to nursery for the first time seventeen years ago.
You see, once you have dropped the child off (with hugs and reassuring words, and love burning in your heart), you have to loosen the reins of control for a few hours; you have to leave, in my case with tears pouring down my cheeks, and trust that the little one will cope, will make friends, will be nourished, will survive in the world outside your protective arms.
I cannot force my book to make friends, to influence people. I cannot oversee its journey moment-by-moment. It is a risk. My book could be ignored completely. It could be sent to Coventry. Equally, it could attract many friends and admirers.
Having let it go into the Amazon nursery of free downloads, all I can so is to drive away and wait, with tremulous hope in my heart, and pick it up later when the metaphorical day is done. Having introduced it, ‘This is a book, ‘Strictly Come Laughing!’ by Alienora Browning,’ to the Play Leaders (as it were), I can do no more! Because, you see, all parents who fetch up at a nursery secretly, or nor so secretly, think that their child is the best, the brightest, the most loving, the sweetest – and each parent is only too aware of that partiality and afraid, therefore, that they might be wrong!
I think all we can do is to tease out the merits, both in our children and our books, which stand the test of time and are not welded, by personal need and ambition, to our fragile egos.
And, as I did for my son so long ago, hold out the huge space for success and happiness and the start of something wonderful.