Saturday 16 January 2016

Life as a full-time writer

I suspect there are many aspiring writers who would love to be in my position, earning a living from writing fiction, with a series in development for television, travelling to exotic locations for research... it sounds wonderful. And, to be fair, for the most part it is a fabulous life. I've been very lucky.

Of course being a published author involves a great deal of hard work and can involve staying up far too late writing. I am permanently tired. Eugene Ionesco was absolutely right when he wrote, 'A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of writing or thinking about writing.' When we took a city break in Barcelona, I dragged my poor husband to three different police stations, in case I ever needed to include one in a book. In fact, since I began writing crime fiction, I haven't travelled anywhere without doing some research along the way. As a writer, you become a kind of gannet, storing away any snippets of information you come across. You never know when they might be useful. Research is one of the reasons I find my career so interesting. Some of my research has given me wonderful experiences, like my recent visit to the Seychelles, some has been quite horrific, but it has all been fascinating. 

So how can there be a downside to all this excitement? Well, here I am again, waiting for my next book to be published. So what's the big deal? you might ask. I've been in this position before, many times. It's just another book, you might think. But it's so much more than that, because once again I'm sticking my head above the parapet, hoping I won't be shot down. 

Whenever a new book comes out, I'm worried about how it will be received. I think every author feels the same. When you are writing a book it belongs to you, and you can do what you like with it. Once it's published, it is no longer the property of the author. It belongs to readers who can say whatever they like about it... and they may not like it. So far I've been lucky. I've had my fair share of positive reviews. But although Journey to Death will be my twelfth published book, it is my very first in a new series for a new publisher. As if that isn't enough to make me nervous, I'm aware that this new series differs from my existing Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson detective series. 

Unlike Geraldine and Ian, my new protagonist, Lucy Hall, is not a police officer. Another difference is that she is in her early twenties at the start of the series. As happens every time I have a new book, I find myself wondering what on earth I'm doing. While I can't claim to be a 'big name', my books are quite well known in the field of crime fiction. Sometimes I wish I was completely unknown, and could just write for myself without worrying about how my next book would be received. But here I am, and as President Truman liked to say, 'If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.' 

So here goes again. I shall gird my loins, pluck up my courage, and face the world smiling, if not fearless. Wish me luck! And if you're just starting out as a writer, don't stress about your future success. Enjoy your early anonymity as well as the success that may be waiting just around the corner. Whatever happens, you're going to have an exciting experience!

Links to all my books are on 


Gordon Brice said...

Thank you for taking the time to write another interesting blog, Leigh. We, your fans, have no doubt that Lucy will be as well loved as both Geraldine and Ian are. I've said it before, but I do not know how you manage to remember all the details from previous books when you are embroiled in writing a new one. With so many books behind you now and THREE main characters, you have a real challenge on your hands, but, as always, I'm sure you will rise to the occasion and keep us enthralled with each book that is published.

Leigh Russell said...

Thank you very much, Gordon. I know I can always count on your kind support.

Leanne Sowul said...

I just discovered this blog and am happy to find a writer speaking honestly about the mixed emotions involved with the process of authoring books. Thanks for this direct and heartfelt post- I will be checking in regularly!

Leigh Russell said...

Thank you for commenting, Leanne. I'm planning to post every weekend, as long as i have something to say, so you might like to drop by on Sundays. It would be lovecly to hear from you again. Leigh

Guillaume said...

I have read, studied and even played Ionesco! I was Jean in Rhinoceros, where I had to change into a rhino in the second act. Okay it is off topic I know.

I envy you for being able to live of your writing. Especially in crime fiction. I understand it is not all idyllic, but like all forms of art, big and small, being able to live of its creativity must be in itself rewarding. By the way, I really like the names of your protagonists.

Leigh Russell said...

I would have loved to see you change into a rhino, Guillaume! I always say writers need to develop hides like rhinos, so I guess you are destined to be a writer!