First of all, I must say THANK YOU! It's been less than one week since Yes, Chef! hit digital bookshelves and I've already received such wonderful feedback from readers about how much they're enjoying the book or how excited they are to read it. For me, Yes, Chef! is an unexpected success, purely because I never imagined myself writing a story in this genre. Now, I know what you're thinking; it's far too early to call it a success and in commercial terms you're right. But on a personal level, just hearing people say how they laughed out loud or how they could really relate to the characters is enough for me.
Earlier this week I was invited to guest blog on the fabulous Steamy Puddings. I decided to discuss how 'not caring' got me a book deal and I received such positive feedback from it I thought I'd share it here.
About five years ago the idea for a series of fantasy novels came to me. I didn’t decide to become a writer. The idea decided for me; because once I’d started writing I knew it was exactly what I wanted to ‘do’ with my life. Now that I’d finally discovered my passion, I became fixated on turning it into a career. I read motivational books like ‘Crush it – how to cash in on your passion.’ But if you’re imagining me spending every waking minute on my manuscript, think again. Instead, I spent my time plotting the entire trilogy, fantasising about walking the red carpet when my books were made into films and designing spin-off merchandise, even before I’d finished the first book!
It got to the point where I truly believed I would only be happy if I became a published author. So I quit my office job and went back to waitressing because I thought it would give me more headspace to write. Yet even with two extra days off per week I still wasn’t getting anywhere with my fantasy manuscript. I needed a serious kick up the bum. So I booked myself into a commercial fiction masterclass with author Fiona McIntosh.
I’m mortified to admit that I broke down and cried when Fiona went through her many suggestions for my manuscript with me. Poor Fiona. She must have thought she had a real nut-job on her hands. The pressure I had placed on myself to succeed was so great that I couldn’t cope with the realisation that I still had so far to go. Then Fiona said something that turned my approach to writing on its head. She said I had to stop all the angst because nobody cares.
Now that might sound harsh, but it’s the truth. We’re writing stories not saving lives. It really freed up my writing. I made the decision to shelve my fantasy novel and write something purely for enjoyment. I began writing Yes, Chef! before the course was over. I didn’t care whether it would ever be published; I just wanted to prove to myself that I could finish a book. One year later, I had not only finished Yes, Chef! I was offered a publishing contract with Penguin Books. I feel very fortunate that I now get paid to entertain my readers and provide them with an escape. But I haven’t quit my ‘day job.’ As they say, I have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé.
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