Today I am truly delighted to welcome Kate Frost to the blog, on the first stop of her tour to celebrate the release of her debut novel The Butterfly Storm. I just have to say – what a beautiful cover!
I first met Kate via the blogosphere when we were introduced by the lovely Debbie Young who thought we might have a lot in common. We do! But more on that later. First I’d like to hand you over to Kate for her really touching and insightful guest post: Finding the Confidence to Write
“When Jo invited me to write a guest post as part of my blog tour she left it up to me to decide on the subject. My initial thoughts were to write about what I had gained from the Creative Writing MA I studied a few years ago that was instrumental in me writing my debut novel, The Butterfly Storm. That subject also tied in neatly with the fact that Jo’s currently working towards a MA too. I then started thinking about why it’s taken me nine years to get to this point of publishing my novel. I began working on The Butterfly Storm in 2004 at the start of the MA at Bath Spa University and finished it by 2006. It’s been on quite a journey since then via agents and publishers before being confined to the depths of my computer. And do you know what’s stopped me from self-publishing it before now? Confidence. Or lack of it.
I have a tendency to lack confidence in myself and my abilities but I haven’t always done. I was quietly confident as a child – creative, always writing stories and plays and performing them along with a friend to our mums and long-suffering brothers. I know what triggered the loss of my childhood confidence; not the actual diagnosis of hyperthyroidism when I was 13 (never a good time to have a hormone imbalance condition) but the impact that the ups and downs of the condition had on me both physically and emotionally. At senior school I was quiet and rarely spoke up in class even when I knew the answer. Drama helped a great deal with that, bringing me out of my shell and enabling me to perform on stage in front of hundreds of people. Three years studying for a BA Hons Drama at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth cemented my new found confidence but it was when I started to write again after university that my confidence began to crumble. It wasn’t because I just got rejections, although as with any writer I got my fair share. I had articles and short stories published in a variety of magazines including New Welsh Review, The London Magazine and QWF. My lack of confidence was because I questioned myself as I’m sure every writer does at one time or another. Am I good enough? Can I actually write? Will anyone want to even buy or read what I’ve written?
I can pinpoint three things that have over the years built up my confidence and enabled me to be assured when I say that I’m a writer. The first was when I was one of the winners of author Kate Mosse’s Baton Stories competition, which she ran in the lead up to the release of her bestselling novel, Labyrinth. The second was studying for the MA and being a part of a wonderful group of writers. The third, and possibly the most important, has been something I’ve simply had to do off my own back and that’s been to believe in myself. That belief has come from incredibly supportive husband and parents, a fantastic network of writing friends both online and in real life and the fact that I’ve written a novel that I’m proud of.
Lack of confidence comes with the territory of writing but there are ways of combating it. It doesn’t mean you have to do a MA. Of course I would wholeheartedly urge anyone who gets the chance to study creative writing whether at undergraduate or postgraduate level to go for it but there are lots of other ways to boost your writerly confidence: an evening class at your local college; a writers’ group; an online writing course; a writing retreat in the UK or abroad; or by buddying up with a writing friend to support each other through all the disappointments and successes. The internet is a fantastic tool for connecting with other writers from around the world and if I’m ever feeling down or lacking in confidence I know there’s a group of lovely writers and bloggers out there that I can turn to. I’ve also saved the emails from the agents that read The Butterfly Storm and who said such lovely things about it but ultimately turned it down because they didn’t feel 100% confident it would make money. I have a beautiful hardback notebook on my bedside table where I’ve handwritten passages of my stories and novels that I’m most proud of along with comments from readers of my short stories that have made me smile. We all need a confidence boost at times and little things like that can reaffirm that you’re on the right track. It can be a long and challenging road from that initial moment of inspiration to publication but I’ve found that the writing community is incredibly supportive and that’s something that each and everyone of us can be proud of.
I am a writer and as of Wednesday 12th June I officially became a published author too.”
Buy the book! (I have, and I can’t wait to read it.) Click this link to go to the Amazon store in your country.
Kate is running a fab competition for the duration of her tour – anyone who buys The Butterfly Storm between Friday 14th and Friday 28th June and emails her the amazon receipt will be put into a prize draw to win one of two £5/$5 amazon vouchers.
Here are the rest of Kate’s Blog Tour stops:
I just want to wish Kate the best of luck with her blog tour and the launch of her book. Kate and I both suffer from thyroid problems, and I know exactly how hard it is to work on an intense project like writing and publishing a book when you’re well, let alone when you’re not. Kate’s worked incredibly hard to get this far, and I hope you’ll help me support her during this exciting time. Okay, over to you – Kate’s looking forward to answering your comments.
June 14, 2013 at 8:21 am
And I’m truly delighted to be a guest on your blog! In the relatively short time I’ve known you Jo, as I’m sure the rest of your blog readers are aware, you’ve been incredibly supportive and generous, so thank you! x
June 15, 2013 at 7:53 pm
You’re very welcome, Kate, and thanks for answering all the lovely comments 🙂 See you on Monday at the next stop! x
June 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm
Yes, definitely – I’m looking forward to Monday. 🙂 x
June 14, 2013 at 11:16 am
A lovely post Kate – thank you for sharing Joanne. 🙂
June 14, 2013 at 12:24 pm
June 15, 2013 at 7:54 pm
You’re welcome Jade x
June 14, 2013 at 11:30 am
Confidence is such a huge thing. I know mine see-saws back and forth from “I’m an AWESOME writer” to “no one will ever read this *expletive deleted*” A happy medium would be nice! I like the idea of keeping positive comments and things that I’m proud of in one place to look at in those low moments. Thank you for that wonderful idea.
June 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm
Yes, a happy medium would be perfect! I think it’s good to have a way of boosting our confidence during those times when quite frankly we have none – reading positive comments that I’ve had in the past works for me.
June 15, 2013 at 7:56 pm
I’ve got some comments from my first professional critique (about 3 good lines in 4 pages of ripping it apart), and comments from an agent who loved Can’t Live Without, typed up on my notice board. I find it really helps remind me that I’m not that bad a writer! Once you’re published, lovely readers who get in touch and tell you they enjoyed your book reinforce this – and I still need A LOT of reinforcement!
June 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm
That was a lovely post, Kate! I can really relate to what you’ve said. As a published author I still have those paralyzing moments of self-doubt. But a great thing about them is that they fade away – be it through hard work or positive reactions of readers. Either way, there is no escaping the fact that – I AM a writer. And that is the greatest feeling in the world. Congratulations and I wish you all the best!
June 14, 2013 at 2:37 pm
Thank you Kaja! In some ways those moments of self-doubt are a good thing – they keep us on our toes. And I agree, being a writer (and believing it) is the greatest feeling in the world.
June 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm
That was wonderful Kate. So moving and inspiring. Like you I tend to lack confidence in myself and my own abilities. It’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one. 🙂
June 15, 2013 at 12:30 am
Thanks Elaine. You’re definitely not alone.
June 15, 2013 at 11:04 am
I love the idea of the notebook with your favourite passages and encouraging comments! I think I am going to steal that! 😀 I like to think that I have a thick skin but I know I’ve got a lot ahead of me and there are probably going to be lots of curl-up-in-the-corner-with-a-hot-chocolate moments before I’m done. It’s good knowing that I’ve got this awesome online community that I’m a part of when that happens.
June 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm
The notebook idea is great, isn’t it? My skin was very thin when I started out but I’ve got skin like an elephant’s hide now! There’s nothing like a couple of proper nasty 1 star reviews to toughen you up 🙂 Like you, I retreat to the lovely community of supportive bloggers when things get difficult. It’s amazing to have all those people backing you up x
June 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm
Steal away Emily! And I agree with both of you about the wonderful community of writers/bloggers we belong to. x