In 2008 I invested in sessions with a life coach. She helped me to shape my dream of being a writer, and put it on paper. It was a very powerful thing to do.
As part of this self-development process I went to a week-long silent retreat during which I worked on putting my writing dream firmly ‘out there’. I began writing my memoir at that retreat. That same week, at a funeral, a group of post-child-raising women friends decided it was time we all pursued our dreams.
When I came out of the retreat they told me they had decided I was to contribute a book to their efforts at an art show the following exhibition week.
We called ourselves 9 Ante Portas (www.9anteportas.com.au). We have had an exhibition every year since. Self-publishing my book, Slippin’ on the Lino, was a huge task.
Enormous! Expensive and time-consuming. But the power of my women friends’ support kept me going. Also, the support of the Queensland Writers’ Centre in finding an editor and working through each process as I needed help was magnificent.
However, I still did not see myself as a writer. I felt a complete fraud, having the cheek to publish a book. So Chrissie, our bold leader, had a heap of business cards printed for me which said “Jane Grieve – Writer”. It was a very, very powerful statement.
During that process I was regularly visited by that most commonplace of writers’ ailments – doubt. Every second day, approximately, I thought what I had written was a load of shit. Then on the alternate days I thought it was okay. This phenomenon dogged me during the recent writing of my second book too, and I now accept that it will always be a part of my writing experience!
Having put together Slippin’ on the Lino I then promoted it all that I could. I had had the book endorsed by everyone with a prominent name that I could beg to do so – Susan Maushart of The Australian, Hugh Lunn, Chris Mitchell of The Australian, Sir Robert Mathers, Bill Durack.
And then I stuck my neck out everywhere I could to get it on shelves. ABC Shops were very supportive, as was Mary Ryan’s. I had launches at Mary Ryan’s in both Milton and Toowoomba, I had a launch in Warwick, and I sold it through Bush Christmas in Toowoomba. Pillow Talk also sold lots.
The book went really well, but I was now running a motel and there was no chance, and no funds, for doing another book ‘on spec’ like the first one. I was at a loss to know where to go from there, as I really wanted to be known as a writer and to publish more. I had done a course at the QWC about finding an agent and realised that even that process was very difficult.
to be continued…
Image by David Seeto as seen in Highlife Winter 2013 edition