Monday, 6 April 2015

Unfollowing authors

It's not my intention to upset anyone with this post. In fact, I'm hoping any authors reading this will understand where I'm coming from. I'll set the scene...

At the start of the year I voluntarily found myself unemployed as I embarked on a freelance career. I found a job I thought I'd enjoy, but didn't so I left. After all, I'd found myself a number of pieces of freelance work that would just about sustain my outgoings and I'd always dreamed of being my own boss, what could go wrong? 

One of the things I underestimated about working for myself was the loneliness of being on my own day in and day out. These things are all about timing. Perhaps six to twelve months ago I would have relished the opportunity. 

You see, the release of the final part of Blackbrooke last year left me in a bit of a slump. I started writing about three new projects, but none of them have grabbed me like Blackbrooke did. The road to becoming more and more down in the dumps was so gradual that I didn't see it coming. One minute I'm sipping champagne to celebrate the release of the final part of the trilogy, the next minute I'm crying every day, convincing that I'm dying. 

Yes, that's how bad it got. Anxiety built and built and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I became a shell of myself. There was a lot of contributing factors - the bleak winter time, no more Blackbrooke, too much time on my own, an approaching milestone birthday...Looking back, it's very easy to see how it all got a bit too much. 

Social media

Without a solid novel idea to build upon, I found logging into my social media accounts made me
feel worse. Over the last few years I've befriended a lot of authors, which is great and very encouraging. Well, when things are going well it is anyway. When things aren't so great, it just feels like you're stood in the middle of a room packed with people all shouting at one another about their latest book. No one is listening, everyone is promoting. The interactions I did see between authors tended to result in conflict and disagreements where people engaged in a weird kind of one-upmanship.

I find this strange considering most of us are in the same boat - either with indie publishers or self-publishing. I started to shrink away and actually felt quite ashamed of Blackbrooke. After all, the YA horror genre is not 'on trend' at the moment. That ship sailed away with the last Twilight movie and was replaced with dystopian for a fleeting amount of time (which some felt Blackbrooke was) and has now been replaced by romance following the success of Fifty Shades. Yes, even romance for teenagers. YA romance is dying down now and we're seeing the trend of real-life stories (off the back of John Green's rightful success). 

So, I found myself depressed (I've avoided that word, but might as well admit it), not writing, uninspired, not reading, not working as much as I could be, and all the while, having people shouting about their books from the rooftops on social media. What's a sad girl to do? 


My wonderful boyfriend, concerned with how low I was, made a simple suggestion: "Why not unfollow all of those authors on Facebook?" 

I scoffed at the idea. I'm 'friends' with more than 1,000 people on FB and most of those consist of authors like me. I don't know anything about them, only they have amazing books all available on Amazon for a snip! Would unfollowing them make me unsupportive? Would they notice and think badly of me? The short answer is no, of course not. They probably don't even remember they added me as a friend. Plus, I'm not even their target audience. 

That's when it really dawned on me that being friends with all of these authors and shouting about Blackbrooke was absolutely pointless. I'd been wasting my time. These authors didn't want to read my book - they wanted me to read theirs, and one of their friends wanted us both to read theirs, and so it goes on. I'm not friends with many actual readers of YA horror - perhaps because they don't know me and would wonder what a random thirty year old wanted by adding them. 

So, over the course of a day, I proceeded to unfollow most authors (I still follow those I actually know or have had interactions with) but I don't see the shouts from the others anymore. Weirdly, it did start to make me feel better. I've still got a way to go with getting back on track with the writing, but I'm feeling my imagination start to stir again, which is exciting. 

Look after yourself

Social media has a lot to answer for in terms of how it makes people feel. It's not just the writing world, it's everything. Why do some people look flawless in their selfies when I look like shit? Why does everyone else seem to go on exotic holidays and I never seem to have any money? It's a dangerous place for people prone to anxiety or depression as it can have the opposite effect of what you think it's doing for you. 

If someone unfollowed me because the things I posted made them feel like shit, I'd fully support them. In real life, we try to form relationships with people who make us laugh and feel good about ourselves and life. With the emergence of social media, we've forgotten this. I'll still use social media for my writing, but I'm rethinking the approach (Twitter is just as bad for authors shouting at each other - BUY MY BOOK!!!) to target readers instead. 

It's what I should have been doing from the start. 

Take care,

Em x

Saturday, 28 February 2015


That's the age I'll be in less than a week.

Have I achieved everything I wanted to before this big birthday? No, of course not.

I've been sad for a number of weeks, dwelling on this milestone. It's a time when you tell yourself you need to stop fannying around and grow up. A lot of my friends and family are fully grown, so now I need follow suit.

However, for everything I haven't 'achieved' there's a hell of a lot I have.

I've written books.

That's not what's important though.

I discovered that life is fleeting and we have to try our very best to not sweat the small stuff, living life to the fullest. We're all guilty of getting ourselves in a mess about things we're likely to forget on our deathbed.

I've discovered that I not only can find love, but I deserve it. That having a family one day might actually be a nice thing rather than something to dread or turn my nose up at. That comes from finding the right person and I have.

I learned that money isn't everything.

That you can start again whenever you want to.

Most of all, I've learned to cherish the now. My partner and my parents in particular. I may not see my parents as often as I should or would like, but I'm so lucky to have them in my life as I turn 30. I not only have a best friend in my mum, but a soulmate. We all have different lives now, but as I said in the acknowledgements of Blackbrooke, we were the three musketeers. We always will be to me. I was supremely lucky to have that 'moment' in my life and to be born to truly good people.

As tempted as I am to turn this into another set of acknowledgements, I won't.

I'll just say that I have some adventures ahead of me. No matter what happens, I'll make sure it's fun.

Here's to one more week of my twenties.

I can't say I'm not a little apprehensive, but happy birthday to me.