East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Falling forward


Things happen.
Yesterday my publisher let me know that the first Hope & Glory novelette is doing pretty badly.
There’s still five novelettes to go, on the other hand, and now I’m curious to see what will come down next.
But let’s be honest – it’snot the sort of thing a writer likes to hear.
In the meanwhile, The Guardian published a short piece, by an anonymous writer, called What I’m really thinking: the failed novelist.


Now I cannot and I will not make light about the obvious distress and pain that transpire from the Guardian piece.
I do not subscribe to the opinions presented and the choices made by the writer, but what the heck, I do respect those anyway, because, as the poet said

two things you should be slow to criticize
a mans choice of woman and his choice of work

Or their decision to quit that work, I add.
But there’s something I’d like to add…

As a writer, there are three reasons why I write:

  1. the desire to tell my own stories.
  2. the desire to have my stories read.
  3. the desire to try and make a buck out of it.

I know, there’s no Art mentioned, no Inner Demons, no Holy Fire – so sue me.
I’m a storyteller, but there’s a million ways in which I could tell stories to my heart’s content – from buttonholing strangers at the bus stop to doing podcasts to keeping a blog.
I do actually… well, apart from the buttonholing thing. Not yet, at least.

But to satisfy at the last two of the above-mentioned conditions, I write stories and publish them – or try to.
And then it turns out my stories are doing pretty badly.
And the worst part of it is, there’s people clapping – because to some, there’s nothing better than seeing somebody try and fail.
They want you to fail.
Not out of any animosity or hatred or deep-rooted evil, mind you.
No, probably they are overall decent people, and would be hurt should we describe them as nasty or bitter or cruel.
It’s just that they resent somebody doing something they do not – or they do, but without any pleasure.


It’s always a tragedy when someone’s creativity is smothered – even if it is a self-imposed smothering, a much needed silencing of a voice in one’s head to preserve the overall sanity of the individual.

But while I felt the hurt reading that piece on the Guardian, I’m still going on.
Each failure is a chance to learn something new, a chance to improve.
Because to run, in the end, is to keep falling face first without never hitting the dirt.
And stopping is not an option.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

15 thoughts on “Falling forward

  1. Perhaps try e-publishing? It worked for Andy Weir, who published his excellent book ‘The Martian’ on his website after it was rejected (I believe). Even JK Rowling had Harry Potter rejected several times. Sometimes I think most things in life just come down to pure dumb luck.

    Please don’t be discouraged if your book isn’t doing well – it is no reflection on quality. Perhaps in 40-odd years, someone will rediscover them and enjoying them (as I have with William Marshall). Sure it would be great to be a multimillionaire of it (a la EL James) but I don’t think there’s anything to call a failure – you had something to say, you said it, you published it, you achieved your goal. That’s more than most people will ever manage.


    • I do self-publish my stories as ebooks. I’m what they call a “hybrid author”: I publish both independently and through traditional publishers.
      And despite my whining on my blog, it’s not going that bad. In the last year, I paid most of my bills by writing, which is more than many can say.
      But it happens, from time to time, when you have worked really hard on something and it turns out it’s not doing well, that it sort of feels hopeless. And that’s the reason why I felt touched by the piece in the Guardian. Because I’ve been there too. But this feeling of hopelessness does not last long, I’m not like that.
      So, all in all, I can’t really complain: I’ve written my stories, and those that read them liked them, which is absolutely great.
      Let’s hope more people will read my stories in the future. I’m certainly going to write more.


  2. The journey is the destination. 🙂


  3. I am a writer and I understand the struggle very well… the truth is nobody can ever stop you from writing. And if this is your choice, then you should write! 🙂


  4. Very nice post! Love the content of your blog all together! It is obvious, that you are a very talented writer.


  5. It is important that you write and your voice to be heard
    Poeple can say whatever
    Your readers are the important ones!


  6. Success & failure is all in the mind..just keep doing good work and wait for your TIME!!


  7. I think you have a great attitude here. There is not much else you can do but learn from your mistakes. And don’t think of them as mistakes but think of them instead as learning opportunities. You will move on from here to bigger and better things.


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