The Poisonwood Shadows, and How I Learned to Be a ‘Writer’
The Poisonwood Shadows has tormented me for almost seven years now (in the nicest possible way!). I began writing it in 2011 and, let’s just say – it’s been a real journey. I’d struggle to quantify just how much I have learned about writing with these books. To begin with, I submitted it to agents, was rightly rejected (back in 2012!) and then self-published it WAAAAAY before it was ready. I’ve lost count of the number of edits it has gone through. But it’s been a brilliant first project, and I’m very proud of what it is today. Everything I have learned over the last few years will go towards making my future books even better.
The idea for my urban fantasy trilogy came to me in a dream. There was an enigmatic ‘shadowy’ character (very handsome!) on a rooftop in a city watching a girl in her room. Not in a creepy way, more in a protective sort of way…It developed from there and somehow, once I began writing, the novel found its own way. It follows the story of Scarlett Winchester, a young woman with a mystery past who becomes involved with the city of Poisonwood’s secret ‘Shadow Army’.
Originally, this was one hella-long novel in three parts. So long that it was intimidating…so the decision to split it into three novellas has been somewhat of a relief for me, and probably any potential readers. Yes, I have to try and get three times as many reviews (what was I thinking??), but I am happy with the decision.
I have made some mistakes as a writer. After a few early blunders regarding the querying/publishing aspects of my first book, I now know that everything I write must be reviewed, polished and perfected before I even think about sending it to agents. Since completing the books, I have written three additional novels, however all of them are in various stages of editing at the moment, and that’s where they’ll stay until I am 100% happy they are the best they can be, and only then will I think about querying.
The publishing industry is big and confusing, and the wider writing community can be a little intimidating (as much as I love it – it’s just so big and there’s always a lot going on!). As a very introverted person, I often worry I’m not doing things right, because other writers do a lot of things that I don’t. I sometimes wonder if I’m doing something wrong by not doing something, by not participating in various hashtags and writing programmes or forums, by not sharing my work, etc…But it’s fine. I am happy to keep things simple and focus on my books until I am ready to begin pitching and querying. I am finding what works for me.
I have a day job, so fitting writing in with real life can be tricky, so much so that I have to schedule on a spreadsheet exactly what I’m working on each day to ensure I meet my targets. I love writing, but it drives me nuts sometimes, so I’ve found that I have to structure how I work. I need those targets and small wins to keep me motivated, and aim to always be learning and developing, and to never give up. I could apply this to many aspects of my life, as I’m sure we all could, so I’m grateful to my first set of books for helping me to learn this.