Origin of the Writer is a series of essays giving emerging writers the opportunity to share their writing journey so far.
When I left for work this morning, Terry had climbed down off the overnight train to Auckland, collected his bag and walked across the platform towards the throng of mid-morning traffic. He had arrived in the city seeking acceptance and reassurance. Although he didn’t know it at the time.
In 48 hours Terry would be leaving the country. Heading to a transit camp thousands of miles from New Zealand. The odds were in his favour he would be sent to fight in a war. He was seeking an adventure, even if it might mean he could get himself killed. It was going to change his life forever. But he didn’t know that either.
After months of training, Terry would have the necessary skills to protect himself, to survive in a hostile environment and to enjoy what pleasurable life experiences came his way. When I left him, he was filled with anticipation as he walked towards the downtown office of the girl he knew he would spend the night with.
And then driving to work, I thought about what Terry was looking for way back in 1966 and it dawned on me that he and I are looking for similar things. I’m not as young as he is, wide-eyed or impressionable. But I certainly feel those things at times in the writing business.
You see, in a way, I’m searching for some of the same things Terry was searching for. Through my story-telling I am also looking for acceptance and reassurance, and yes, I am definitely seeking adventure through my characters and in making the decision to publish my stories. I see all the successes of other authors on social media platforms, in all the messages of congratulation I seem to be sending to other authors. But, as it was pointed out to me recently, I won’t get to see 80% of their mountain, the part where all the rejections, failures and hard work happens. I just get to see the 20% that peaks above the cloud and languishes in brilliance and success.
Most times I’m terribly lost in the absurd reality of the writing environment. Sometimes it can be downright hostile! Unlike Terry, I won’t be trained in the necessary skills. Rejection, be it from the publishing world, the book review world or from the marketplace, over time, will build up my immunity making my search for acceptance so much harder as I dodge intimidation and disappointment.
In 2014 when I published my first novel, A tide too high, I was swept up in the chemical high of not just completing a story, but being able to publish it myself. Nothing was planned, one day it was just ‘out there’.
When it came time to publish my second novel, although I would still self publish, I was going to do things a little differently and invest in my brand as an author. Everything about it would be controlled and planned. I would believe in myself. Believe in a product that compared favourably with others on the same shelf. It was time to be daring.
One difference between Terry and myself, is that I probably have way more patience than he had. It comes from experience and age. But I still don’t know what I’m capable of. All I know, is that the buck stops with me.
There is still a lot to learn, but looking back, I’m pleased I did take that leap of faith. The Nam Legacy sold into bookshops across New Zealand and hit the New Zealand Booksellers Top Ten Bestseller List for Fiction for seven weeks. This was huge for a never-heard-of-before author and her second book. And all this by believing in myself. I think I have been looking for acceptance from the wrong people. For me acceptance needs to come from the reading public. The people who are prepared to give freely of their time to read what I write, read what I post on Facebook, or check my website. Most of all, it needs to come from me.
Being lucky enough to be able to tell a good story is something I’m proud of and it may just change my life too. But like Terry, I don’t know either. I am an emerging author. Watch this space!
The Nam Legacy
The Nam Legacy is an epic love story set during the 60’s and 70’s. When the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane drove parents crazy, teenagers found sexual freedom and peace slogans covered placards. When the Vietnam War abducted the nation’s young men and sent them to fight in New Zealand’s most controversial campaign.
After eighteen months in Vietnam, New Zealand soldier Jack Coles thought killing others to stay alive would be the hardest thing he would ever have to live with. He was wrong.
Although the nightmare of what he saw and did haunt him constantly, what tortures him
the most, is what he has left behind.
“Not everyone who lost his life in Vietnam died there, not everyone who came home from
Vietnam ever left there”
The Nam Legacy is Jack’s story.
Available from Amazon or bookstores across New Zealand. Signed copies available from Carole’s website.