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  • sarahjmaxwell

Shake it off!

There’s a saying, ‘no point flogging a dead horse’. Pretty awful saying for someone who loves horses, but the sentiment is relevant to this blog and how I feel about the recent stages of my writing career.

When ‘Billy Lemonade’ was published in 2021, I couldn’t have been happier. With the finished product, the cover, the reviews, book sales. For an unknown author with an Indie publisher, its success went beyond all expectations. Time passed. Reviews stopped popping up. Sales dwindled to nothing.

I was disappointed, but my publisher wasn’t having it. She determined to find out why it wasn’t selling. My demons told me it was because I’d been ‘found out’ and the book was no good, my writing, amateur.

To my mind, Whisper Publishing were ‘flogging a dead horse’. Then I realised that my own self-doubt was once again responsible for stripping me of the pride I’d—only weeks before—professed at my writing success. Filling my head with nonsense. Leaving my writing career at the knacker’s yard. Heavy, loathsome burden of insecurity. In the words of Taylor Swift, I had to 'shake it off'.

The turnaround didn't happen over night, but gradually and with the help of my dogs and daily walks in nature, I did indeed 'shake if off'.

When I was told the old cover needed a face lift, I set-aside my disappointment (the original had been lovingly produced and admired) and welcomed one. When I was told ‘Billy Lemonade’ sounded “too middle-grade”, I swallowed the lump in my throat and pondered new titles.

I’m lucky to have a team who believe in me so much that they’re prepared to invest time and money in me. Every time I give in to the self-doubt, I’m letting them down. Worse than that, I’m letting myself down.

So, this is me, reminding myself, and anyone who cares to listen, that if we don’t possess confidence in what we write, we’ve already given up. If we let ‘imposter syndrome’ take over the keyboard, the words from our soul might never be written. Believe in yourself and believe in your dreams.

To all the doubters and naysayers, all vicious demons, please leave the party.

Disclaimer: The new cover of ‘Billy Lemonade’ is fantastic. The new title—reveal not for a while—is epic.

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