The Debut Year – you have no power over me!

It’s a weird word ‘debut’ – old fashioned. It makes me think of debutante ball. But that’s much too rigid and stuffy, it’s more surreal that that. Just like any occasion that is hyped up — Christmas, Birthdays, giving birth, getting married, moving house, fantastic holidays…it had the danger of too much expectation, like a bubble surrounding it, ready to pop.

Labyrinth bubbles | Labyrinth movie, Labyrinth, Labyrinth jareth

Your debut year will be more like the ball in the film Labyrinth, where you get to dance and wear the puff sleeved glitterfest outfit of dreams, but your dashing partner is also your baby-stealing enemy, and you are surrounded by laughing masked people you don’t know. 

A group of people standing next to a person

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But still. It has a certain glamour, and you’ll never forget it, even if you don’t always enjoy it. 

Now I’m not being a party pooper, I loved my debut year in many ways. Holding my book in my hands, seeing it in a shop for the first time, signing it with my name. The novelty and pride of being known as an author, hearing people – especially children – enjoyed it. The school visits and events. The glow of great reviews. Selling your book to other territories. The feeling of achievement, of attaining something truly difficult and rare you worked incredibly hard for. 

But there’s a flip side. Looking for your book in a shop to realise they don’t stock it. Friends and loved ones may be unmoved or unimpressed. Events nobody turns up to. Anticipated foreign sales or film deals that don’t happen. School visits with a tough crowd and few sales. That one stabbing review that deflates your heart. Worst of all, the frustrating feeling that you should be floating on cloud nine…so why aren’t you?

Expect all the feelings. Expect the bad stuff to be minimal compared to the good stuff but your reaction to it will be out of synch. Humans are wired to remember anxiety and fear more than contentment, for millions of years it kept alive. 

So I only have one piece of advice. Don’t look sideways. 

Comparison is the enemy of contentment (I feel I should credit that but no idea who said it). Every debut author will have a different experience and you won’t be able to tell what it is from what you see online. It really doesn’t matter anyway.

The best bit about being an author isn’t the start. I’m only early in my career but believe my best is yet to come, I certainly hope so, I’m always learning. 

You are a sorcerer.  You wove a story from your imagination into a vessel of lines and squiggles built to cross white page oceans and reach its destination in another human’s brain. 

You created magic, and magic is scary.

The best part of the story isn’t the ball and the bubble. It’s back at home, in the aftermath, just doing what you do. 

A bedroom with a bed and a fireplace

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Lindsay’s first book The Secret Deep came out in the UK in 2018 and the next, Darwin’s Dragons, is to be published in early 2021. She writes YA, MG and has adult and younger fiction works in progress. She reads in all genres and loves to edit, she is an experienced mentor plus a critique partner of published authors.

Lindsay came late to writing, self-taught, after a career teaching which is now part time. She is a slush-pile (talent pool!) conqueror who came from nowhere and had no contacts and – although it took a while – had the first ever book she wrote published by the excellent Chicken House.

An experienced teacher, Lindsay’s workshop style is upbeat, constructive and focuses on the practical. She is sensitive to those at different stages of their writing journeys and the courage it takes to share work. Her workshops have a positive supportive atmosphere, intended to empower writers. All questions are welcome.

Lindsay is also a Spark Mentor and runs our 6 week MG WriteMaster course.