It’s taken me ten years to finish my series of children’s books about cycling round the world.
I’m not that much of a pathetic, time-wasting faffer. So why did it take so long?
A few reasons, really. And I wanted to write this post because I am sure these reasons will resonate with many people who have aspirations of writing books, working for themselves, making films, launching projects, doing something that they are passionate about.
Here’s what happened:
- It took a few years for me to find a publisher to take on the book.
- I wrote the first book, really enjoyed it, thought it was great. Published it. So far so good! But nobody bought the book. The reasons for this are numerous and not relevant to this particular blog post.
- By this time writing had become my job. Jobs, by definition, require a financial recompense for your time, effort, skill and output. Quite frankly, it was not worth my time to write the second book if so few people were going to read it.
- But my publisher nagged me, my reluctance to leave a project unfinished nagged me, and my conscience nagged me, pointing out to me why I had wanted to write these books in the first place. I wanted to write children’s books for four reasons. Here they are, in descending order of importance:
– To inspire children to think of adventure
– To teach children about the world I had cycled round, not the paranoid negative world we see on TV
– Because I enjoy writing
– To earn money.
- So I wrote the second book, reluctantly, slowly, inefficiently, and in a bit of a sulk.
- By now my blog and other books had gradually begun reaching a wider audience and this, in turn helped my two kids’ books reach more people. Children began emailing me, pestering me about when the trilogy would be complete.
- Filled with guilt, though far more enthusiastic once again, I sighed, sat down, and wrote Book 3. I really enjoyed it once more. (I actually think the last chapter of that book is one of the best things I’ve ever written.)
- Job done! Trilogy complete. The ten year project was finished.
Why am I telling you this?
- Because I feel a weight off my shoulders at finishing a job I set out to do.
- Because I created something, made something, and that feels good.
- Because I have been chatting on Skype with lots of Primary Schools who have been reading my books. The children have enjoyed the books and bombard me with loads of questions. I love that. This has reminded me to remember why I wanted to do all this stuff in the first place.
- Because once my focus for doing stuff turned to making money I became unhappy and unfulfilled. (Interestingly, I generally find that the stuff I do for the sheer love of it rather than financial gain end up earning me more money anyway…)
There are things that make something feel worthwhile way above and beyond a royalty cheque. Don’t ever forget that.
Do stuff because you care about it, not because of the cash.
And because receiving letters like this, making just one impact on one individual, will – I hope – remind us all why we need to write books, produce stuff that excites us, or just talk to people about stuff that feels important to us…
I do not know where to start to write this. As a mother of a 12-year old autistic child who will only read non fiction books I have always found it difficult to get him to read, but I can honestly say you have changed his life.
He has always had a fascination of travelling the world and has been transfixed on Google Earth maps with the idea he would go around the world in 80 days, he has for many months been planning his route and going over maps to see which way he will go. I found by chance your books The Boy Who Biked The World and from the second I opened them up I knew he would love them. They covered all his dreams and he could not wait to read, ten pages a day were never enough. The bananas were a huge hit and he always had lots of questions to ask. Thank goodness for the internet!!!
The reading style was easy and kept him engrossed, and the pages of handwritten bits were all facts and fun (just right for him).
I can honestly say you are his hero.
I asked Timmy to tell me what he thought of the books and this is what he said,
“The books are about a boy called Tom who biked around the world his family and friends from school had no faith in him and were not kind to him. I smiled when he came home as he did not need a map for that bit as he recognised where he was , I like looking on google earth and it was good to have an insight in to how other people in other countries live. I loved he lived on bananas and I wondered how many loaves of bread he ate and how many tons of bananas too. does he still eat them? I wish I could find more books about trips like that.”
Thank you so much for the books. They are the loveliest books he has read and I am sure they will be read more than once. (He has a photographic memory so he only needs to read them once and he won’t forget them.)