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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

The loneliness of a long-distance writer


This is the hard bit. The bit where the real authors are sorted out from the wannabes. The bit where those not determined enough, passionate enough, driven enough, give up and fall by the wayside.

This is the bit where you are reminded that writing a book is not a short sprint but a long, hard marathon of endurance. My own willpower is wavering a little lately, I admit. I’ve been ill at a constant low-level for two months or so now. Niggling things such as colds, stomach bugs, shingles, even mouth ulcers, all showing me how run down I am, and slowing down my writing. I’m tired all the time. All. The. Time. I even wake tired. What I want to do – perhaps what I need to do – is take a break, rest, regain my zing.

This is the part of being an author that people rarely speak of. Instead, we concentrate on the positive: great reviews of current books, cover reveals, good sales rankings. But lurking in the background is The Fear about the current work in progress.

My book is on the wrong path.

There, I’ve said it.

Right now, I don’t know how to get it right. I feel lost and bereft. I feel completely useless. I feel as if all my worst fears are coming true – and this is almost certainly why I’ve been ill. Most of all, I feel completely alone. I am self-published, so there is no editor to talk things through with, no team supporting me. There is just me, lost.

But I won’t give up. I can’t. Every time I try to, I get more ideas for other books, or think of a new way to solve the problems with my current work in progress. And that’s the good news. That shows that I’m not as lost as I think I am, and that if I keep on going I will, one day, spot something shimmering on the horizon and drawing ever closer. The finish line. Reserves of energy I didn’t know I had will kick in, and I will sprint across it and once again feel that exhilaration of achievement. I’ll look back over the distance I have travelled, the huge volume of words I’ve written, the story I have woven, and think: “How the hell did I do that?”

How? Because I’m an author, and writing novels is a long, hard marathon of endurance. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. All I have to do is keep going.




It’s now twelve months exactly since I wrote this post. I finished the manuscript, sent it off to agents and publishers, and got a four-book deal with Bookouture. Coincidentally, The Darkest Lies (which is what the manuscript became) was published on Friday, and has entered Amazon’s Top 100. What a difference a year makes!

So if anyone reading this post feels like giving up, I really, really hope this helps to keep you going. Who can say where you will be a year from now…


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