Just a short one while I’m thinking of it. I was asked about my number one writing tip and I think it is that I seek honest feedback. I totally appreciate that it can be difficult to give sometimes, but I am most grateful for honesty. Truly.
I don’t ask beta readers, coaches or friends to make me feel good, I ask them how I can improve … and I love the answers. Sometimes they can be “wrong” but they are never unhelpful and usually they are right.
Sometimes we differ on opinion or advice and sometimes it is different “grammar rules” but for the most part, they each lift my game a little (and sometimes a lot), and it is a little like having a mirror placed in a blind spot, a light shone in a dark corner, or a lid being lifted on a whole new jar of tricks. I love that they want these things for me!
It sounds so obvious but it isn’t. And I have to say, I’d do the same for you. When I beta read for others I try to be as honest as I can, and I know it’s not easy. No one wants to hurt feelings. But do yourself a favour and #AskForHonesty.
For most of 2016, I had no choice but to spend every waking hour adjusting to my new normal after losing most of my mobility due to complications with my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It was certainly nothing like what I had planned for the year and at first, I thought that life as I had known it was gone forever. In many ways I was right, it was gone forever, but it also opened the door to a part of me that I had always known was in there but never had the time, courage or circumstance to bring out. Hours upon hours every day in bed gave me the unique opportunity to start to write, and I soon found my voice and my space to tell my story.
A very long and complicated story that is going to take a while to take apart and put back together again into chunks that make great books which are easy for people to read and get something out of. After ten months of hard and often emotionally painful work, I had written enough for two full-length novels (which I hope will come out this year some time). But when I got to the part where I talked about the thread of anxiety and panic attacks that had run through a decade or more of my journey, I stopped there.
When I sit down to write every day I generally let my fingers and my soul tell the story for me and I look forward to seeing what comes out. I had got the anxiety bits out in a few days of hard writing but in the week or so that followed and I sat down to write each day, my soul and my fingers stayed on topic and never moved from it. They kept going back and back to the anxiety and panic, and I realized then that I was supposed to stop there for a reason. When you live in a story day to day, week, month and year to year, it is so easy to get lost in the bigger picture and to forget how hard we worked or how much we achieved.
I had battled hard with anxiety and it very nearly consumed me completely. As anxiety and panic attacks merged with some of the serious side effects of my as yet undiagnosed genetic condition, the cocktail of symptoms from both made it even harder to separate them. Serious issues were chalked up to anxiety and dismissed, while some of the scarier effects of the anxiety were wrongly treated as life or death situations. The whole mess created even more fear and confusion which of course only fed the anxiety.
My journey through so many failed attempts to solve my anxiety as well as my medical issues was a long and painful one which ultimately led me to break point, where I literally landed up on the floor of the church foyer across the road begging for help. Thankfully the poor stunned receptionist who had no idea what to do with me remembered that a trauma counselor was on call and phoned him immediately.
Next door to the church was a library and between the kind advice from the retired counselor and the medical books on the shelves, over the next four months, I began to put all the pieces of information together that I needed to turn this all around. And in the end, I eventually did. I won! I beat my anxiety permanently.
I realized two things as I was writing all this; that I don’t want everyone to have to buy my novels in order to get what may help them with their own anxiety, and that the anxiety thread is way too important to squash into a single chapter among dozens of other things. And so was born the idea of a short (less than an hour) book that tells the stripped down version of how I beat my anxiety and the tools needed to replicate it.
And so was born the idea of a short (less than an hour) book that tells the stripped down version of how I beat my anxiety and the tools needed to replicate my success. I am still going to tell all the other stories, but until then, The Lion and the Peacock – How I Conquered Anxiety, will be available on Amazon Kindle from the 8th of January 2017. You can sign up here to get an email as soon as it is out as well as when it will be out in paperback, and other exciting news:
Yes please, SIGN ME UP! (no spam I promise!)
A new year, a new book, and I am actually feeling a little overwhelmed by how fast this is all growing! I am now writing for a few different publications which I am super excited about. I am thoroughly enjoying writing for The Mighty and hope that this will become my main Chronic Illness Voice in 2017. We are working on that behind the scenes and I will let you know how that goes. It is quite different to writing books but I love that I can speak a small snippet of my life and my work without having to fit in to a lengthy book. I am finding it a fabulous way to develop my writing ability as well, as I enjoy being stretched in a different direction.
The Facebook page is also slowly growing. Obviously I would love it to grow fast but I feel a little as though I am being pulled in a few directions and with my health restrictions I can only push myself so far before I do some serious damage. But thanks so much to everyone who has followed it and is sharing my posts!
The book should be available on Kindle next week, the only reason that a date isn’t set in stone is because the holiday period has meant that so many people who are needed in the process have shut up shop … and good for them! MailChimp for example are doing a fabulous job of keeping track of those of you wonderful people who have signed on for the newsletters (which will tell you when the book is out!) but they have had a glitch and so we can’t even send out a test email yet until they get back to us… So we are waiting on a handful of those kinds of things before we can confirm 🙂
If you missed the opportunity to put your email on the mailing list, which will give you launch dates as well as let you know in advance which days the book will be promoted for free etc, then please feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will manually add your email address to the list 🙂
The book itself is going well and the Beta Readers have given me such wonderful feedback and there are so many people who have offered to share it on their blogs and websites, so if you would like to do the same just let me know!
Thanks for journeying with me on this, I am soooo nervous and yet excited about this book and I hope you will get as much from it as those who have so far read it 🙂
(You can also follow me on Twitter if that’s you thing 🙂 )
After one of the most amazing roller coasters of a month, we are on track for the launch of my first book, The Lion and the Peacock – How I Conquered Anxiety.
I did not plan on this being my first book, but after writing the chapter on this part of my journey for one of my other books, it occurred to me that this needed to be a stand-alone book in its own right.
It is short, only about a tenth of the size of a full-length novel, which means that anyone will be able to access this, without having to read or purchase anything else or anything bigger. I am still telling my story and the books will keep coming, but this is now the first window into my complicated story.
If you would like to be on the mailing list for the book (which I promise I won’t spam you with), it will involve only a few emails leading up to the launch on the 15th of January 2017, and then from then on monthly emails with updates on promotions, free days, and the follow-up book releases. Please sign up or leave your email details in the comments below.
Where I hang out:@JPeaSmith“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.” ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman