A future written in clay

I’m terrified of publishing myself.  It’s taken me a while to realise this.  I think the fear has always been there but is only now truly beginning to rear it’s dark, monstrous head on days like this when I just want to flake with heat and lie around drinking tea and eating chocolate (how much chocolate is actually allowed in one day…?)

The great realisation hit me while I was washing the dishes (not all revelations occur in the bath.)  I’ve done nothing this year (by nothing I mean no writing) except research the Art of Self-Publishing.  I’ve put myself out there.  I’ve discovered other people like me, other writers, other artists, other worlds….and it’s all the same world.  I’ve made plans and changed them.  I’ve made more plans and changed those.  I thought and I thought and I thought and I thought.  I’ve cried over my life, my work, my perceived failure, my distinct lack of voice, of talent, of future.  I’ve suffered horrific humiliation at the hands of the Work Programme advisors (I have a part time job but am still classified as unemployed, “unemployed” being another word for useless fuck who should be shot by the fascists at dawn:  the official government definition.)

So that has been my year.  Half way through August and my plans are still mud.  I cannot publish Transference as my first novel.  That fanciful date of November Fifth means a rush job and that’s the last thing I want to do.  My writing “career” has moved at a snail’s pace, mostly because I’ve spent half my life being a crap writer, having to learn the long hard way how to string a sentence together in a pleasingly stylish fashion.

What is holding me back now?  Editing and a great deal of technical stuff.  I don’t want to just click “upload” on KDP and there you go, yet another shit book for sale for 99p on Amazon.  I don’t want to be Yet Another Shit Author.

I want to get it right.  I want to take care.  I want the cover to look professional even though I’m going to have to do it myself due to dire lack of funds (the word “part time” and “unemployed” probably say it all).  I want the manuscript to be typo-free.  I want the plot to make sense.   I want to build my own website but not have it look like one of those freebie build-your-own cheapie sites.

I’m not asking for the fucking earth, am I….?

While it’s true that the technical side is slowing me down(by “technical” I mean all that has to be done before I hit the KDP upload button) and the marketing is mindboggling and exhausts me before I’ve even begun, I don’t fear them.  It’s hard work, but it’s not scary.

The scary part is letting go of my books.


So I have to ask myself:  have I spent all these years sabotaging my writing career (by writing badly, for example) just so that I could have an excuse for being a spectacular failure, rather than just be an ordinary failure:  i.e. ordinary?

What am I actually frightened of?

Being ordinary?

Or being found out that I’m ordinary?

At least by claiming to be a failed writer, I can pretend (to myself) that I’m not.


Time to bomb that house they’re building for me in Loserville.  Fuck that.  I’m not looking to be fearless and brave.  But I do need to take my head out.  The future is not written in stone.  It’s clay and every plan can be changed.  I’ve taken some good advice and will put Transference on hold.  Ultra is going to be my first novel, a novel that is less close to my heart.  It needs minimal work and will be a good experiment, then, in first novel publication.  It’s had nine rejections so far.  I’m arsed if there’s going to be a tenth.


February 14th.  A twisted love story.  Let’s see how it goes, this plan of mine, written again in clay, a future waiting to be moulded into something real.


About susannahjbell

I am a writer of science fiction and other strange and surreal works. I mostly write novels and the occasional novelette. My published works include A Doorway into Ultra, the Fleet Quintet and the Exodus Sequence. I live in London in an attic flat but really want to live in a tree. I wanted to be an astrophysicist but would settle for an alien abduction. I write because I don’t know what to read.
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2 Responses to A future written in clay

  1. There isn’t enough chocolate in the world…

    “(I have a part time job but am still classified as unemployed, “unemployed” being another word for useless fuck who should be shot by the fascists at dawn: the official government definition.)”

    Hahaha that sums it up well. I’m surprised they don’t make us wear that on a t-shirt.

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