The Highs and the Lows of Being a New Writer

Where the magic happens

Where the magic happens

Nobody told me when I started this whole pursuit, just how hard the journey was going to be.

The worse thing about being new to any job is that you don’t know where anything lives. You spend most of your first week, looking through cupboards and bothering your colleagues with questions like, “where do I find…?” and “where does this go?” Your colleagues tend to have the good grace to help you out, because they know that you are new and it’s only a temporary phase, while you establish yourself into the firm. However, becoming a new writer is totally different. You are self-employed, so there isn’t anyone to ask. You have a thousand questions, but no one is going to line up with the answers, so you have to find the answers to them yourself.

Writing can be very lonely at times. You spend a great deal of your time on your own, in your office space, just writing or blogging. Your work can take so much of your time and energy that after a productive writing session, it isn’t unheard of, to look at the clock and realise that there isn’t anyone to socialise with anyway, because it’s too late and almost time for dinner, or your friend’s/family’s lunch break is over, or even it’s time for bed. The combination of all of these factors can lead to a tremendous amount of lows, which you have to manage yourself. There isn’t anyone going to blow a dinner bell whistle, nor call clocking out time, if you miss a break and work through, there is no one there to acknowledge it and serve you with praise. It’s simply you and your writing, however, as negative as all that sounds, and it has to be said, because it is a reality of the business. When you finally reach a writing goal however, you could walk on the clouds and dance in the heavens. The highs are always so much higher than the lows could ever be. So, like an addiction, we keep writing, looking for our next pinnacle to lift us up into the clouds.

I have spoken with many people about the fact that I am an author. It’s funny how varied the reactions can be. I have spoken to people who have ignored the whole subject and changed the topic immediately. Some people have been in awe of what I do, which is lovely and a nice lift for my ego, but I can’t help thinking that I am just as ordinary as the next person. Other people come at me from a different angle. They have often bought into the chocolate box imagery associated with the comedy sketches of years gone by, where comedians would portray well known writers eating chocolates while having an overworked typist in the corner, typing away at some break neck speed, to keep up with the author’s dictation, while the author lays on a couch eating chocolates. Apparently, that’s what I do. On these occasions, I have to admit to thinking to myself, “I wish. If only…”  These people are not aware of the all-nighters that I pull to get a chapter or a storyline finished, or the fact that I could have spent a couple of weeks just building a website, to get my brand out into the wider community. Speaking of which… Nobody told me when I started this whole pursuit, just how hard the journey was going to be.

When I originally started this whole writing malarkey, I had no idea that my writing journey was going to take me to the places that it has, or be so complicated. Originally, when I was ignorant to the journey, I thought I would just write a book, place it in an envelope and pop it in the post and the rest would be history. A contract would land on my carpet from a publisher and in would roll loads of money, making the whole thing worthwhile. I would be compensated for all the hours of hard work done after I finished my day, at my full time job, which was out of town, for working late into the night and giving up all my evenings, weekends and holidays, to get my manuscript finished. Yes, that’s more of that stereotyping, working its way into my ignorance. It is right that I do work all my evenings, weekends and holidays. I miss nights out, relaxation, just picking a book up for a relaxing read is a thing of the past, and if I do have to attend events, then I have to fit them in.

My daughter has a new question she asks of her dad, but within ear shot of me, to make a point and that is, “has mum made a nest again?” This is because ever since she has been at university, I have been writing seriously, with the intention of making it my full time career, and all she has seen is me writing in the back of the car, while en-route to picking her up, or dropping her off. I have to admit that when I stand back and take an outsider’s view of what I do, it does sort of look like a nest. I’ll often be sat in the back of our beaten up, old, failing car, with my laptop, and my little exercise book, pen and torch for when the battery dies on my laptop and I can’t write on it any longer. I also have a good book to read, to go with my torch for when I end up over tired and inspiration leaves me, or I just need to chill a little, so yes, I can see where she is coming from. It’s like anything else though, if you want to be a success, you have to work really hard at it. This is how my parents brought me up and so far, it has proved to be the right advice.

The journey has been much harder though, than I ever anticipated. I did everything in the book to the best of my ability. I followed every piece of advice that made sense to me. I bought a copy of the Writers’ & Artists’ Year Book and worked my way through that, sending my manuscript off to all the publishers in the UK, who published my genre. I spent a fortune on postage, envelopes and printing, only to have ALL of them returned to me. I had followed the rules and looked for whether each company was accepting submissions, I’d looked at their submission guidelines and written a synopsis and covering letter attune to what they were each individually asking for. I tried to get an agent, but couldn’t, I emailed my manuscript, where that was their criteria and spent the majority of 2012 and 2013 been rejected by every company. The returns were very polite, wishing me luck in my venture, but politely telling me that because I didn’t have an agent, they wouldn’t even read my manuscript. This business is tough.

You have to have a very thick skin to be part of this business, or decide to self-publish and take your chances. The problem with that is that every man and his dog are all doing the same thing. It would seem that since the recession made unemployment nearer the norm than employment, everyone has turned to writing that novel they’ve been putting off, and looking for a new way forward. This means that getting a novel out there is going to be almost impossible, if you don’t know how to promote it. So I go back to my original statement – Nobody told me when I started this whole pursuit, just how hard the journey was going to be.

Nobody said to me, when I sat at the bottom of my garden, with my rose-tinted glasses on, do you know that when you’ve finished writing your book, you are going to have to go off shore, over to America, to get published, because your own community won’t even read it. They didn’t tell me about the loneliness of writing, they didn’t share the fact that I would have to learn to write to a standard that was high enough to be accepted by my publisher. No body relayed the fact that I would have to build a website and join numerous writing communities, just to stay afloat, but do you know what? It’s all worth it! Every last up and down. Every high, every low, because I wrote something that I could share with the world. Something that has the potential to outlast me, if I can get it off the ground, and there are not many people who can say that.

Writing has been the most incredible journey of my life after motherhood. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been my saviour. It has shown me that I can do far more than I ever thought I was able to. I have gained so many skills over the last three and a half years that I sometimes I have to sit myself down and remind myself that it is me doing it. You see the advantage of being self-employed and not having anyone to ask about anything, is that it serves as a catalyst for finding things out yourself and that always leads to you learning far more than if someone just spoon-feeds you the answers.

Would I recommend becoming a writer? Yes and no. The answer lies deep inside the individual asking the question. It’s not as easy as it looks. I would say that it is far more difficult than the full time job, I currently make my living at, and I don’t have an easy job. Only the person asking the question can decide whether they are tough enough to take on the industry and tough it out, just to get a foot on the ladder, with no guarantees or promises. To face rejection from the industry and critique from non-writer, who can destroy your writing career as look at you. If you’re not up to this, then my answer would be – no. Don’t pick up your pen. However, if you are still not fazed by this and the writing is erupting out of you, regardless then it’s time to take up the challenge and enjoy the ride of your life.


Serina Hartwell – Author of The Hidden Saga

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To Escape a Moment

To Escape A Moment

To Escape A Moment

What water drips on my page of questions?

It lies bland and waiting for my hand

To wander through its distant pages

Of lands to be explored

The water drips down my window

Drawing me from my page

What story lies behind each raindrop?

Waiting to be collected


I travel, wander, fight and dance

As ink glides across my page

Where will my journey end today?

As water drips across my ink

My pen placed down I sit and wonder

At the place I have journeyed today

My heart is crying with tears I squander

As my journey ends today

Tomorrow will start another journey

Another empty page

Where will I escape to another day?

Another grey rainy day


By Serina Hartwell

Author of The Hidden Saga

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The Promised Land

The Promised Land

The Promised Land

Let your veil of welcoming arms engulf me

Take me to where you journey far

To the place I cannot come from

Let sadness hold me dear

For I carry the notion close to me

That my hopelessness has found

An outlet who will accept me

That journey I am bound


For my restless heart surrenders

Their words are lost on me

I’m sorry tearful visitors

A task I could not complete

Life’s great journey held me dear

To suffer untold pain

I surrender to the burden

Of expectations bound to grace


Life take me on my journey

Take me to a world that I have found

To where they cannot touch me

Nor follow in my wake

I tried to do my quota

To keep the balance right

But insincere were my masters

To promise me the hopeful land


I take these notions harshly

I bury my fears within

They shall not know how I suffer

Nor lend me a helping hand

I cannot offer plenty

I cannot offer more

They have but drained me plenty

Please darkness open my door


My thoughts are exhausted deeply

My muscles creak and groan

I have but nothing left to give

May my suffering end today

May the wheel of fortune turn once more

And offer a moment in the light

May opportunity sing its faithful tune

And take me to the promised land


By Serina Hartwell

Author of The Hidden Saga

If you like my work, tell a friend. Thank you for your support.





The doorbell rang this morning
A princess she came calling
She swaddled me in love and kindness
Those blue eyes looked to me

She asked me for a favour
A cat she did want near her
We took a journey step by step
To find her stripy prize

She climbed up slowly, step by step
To find her destination
Big boots aloft, she climbed up high
Mount Everest we were bound

She neared the top and called ‘pussy cat’
‘Pussy cat where are you?’
Her prey stayed low and hid there too
She didn’t like her guest

Big eyes befell me, green and black
Blue eyes did follow suit
They looked to me to offer hope
That their true dreams wouldn’t elope

I looked upon them quickly now
My glance shot from one to the other
My heart strings pulled from my chest
As sense abandoned me

A brother’s call rang proudly
A brother’s call rang true
The pussy cat hunt stalled fast
And green eyes thanked me too

The shaking did stop quickly
The pursuit abandoned now
Blue eyes took me somewhere new
To chase her a new prize through

Her blonde curls did bound all the way
As the cat got to live another day
Curiosity took her somewhere new
To see some chickens, all bright and new

By Serina Hartwell
Author of Hidden The Hidden Saga

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Oh child of mine, you suffered
In your plight to make it to my side
To walk, to sing, to dance among the flower
To be held so tightly, so loved, so longed for

Lost before your journey’s end
Taken back to the heavens and the stars
My loss breeds mourn for your tender heart
To walk among the souls

I feel you close to me, my tender child
You came to me and beckoned
To love you more, a love so true
I touch your essence longing for more

My heart is missing the piece that is you
That belongs in its tender embrace
My heart goes out searching, lost, withdrawn
And waiting for your grace

My heart holds dear, for the day we meet
On heaven’s planes it shall wait
Listening for your affectionate whisper
Until reunited we will be

By Serina Hartwell
Author of Hidden The Hidden Saga

If you like my work, tell a friend. Thank you for your support.