Hazel McHaffie

Against the odds

I am blown away by the courage and fortitude of so many of my fellow authors. Not just battling a harsh system in a difficult and fickle industry, but succeeding against all manner of odds.

Why is this in my mind this week? Because I’ve just re-read an exceptionally good issue of the writing journal Mslexia  (Winter 21/22) which captures the indomitable spirit of women who have picked themselves up, dusted themselves down, and got right back in the saddle. Inspirational stuff. What are the puny obstacles in my path against these giants?

There’s Faye Keegan who overcame poverty and depression and anxiety and lockdown and moving into a boat too small even for her writing desk. She’s still constantly grappling with boat-related crises, but she’s back writing.

Then there’s crime writer Joy Ellis who struggled with ME, the collapse of her upmarket floristry business, being homeless, injury in a motorbike accident, innumerable rejections and disappointments, but now in her 70s, with over 3 million sales under her belt, and publishing three new titles a year.

Jesse Sutanto is really really hard on herself and has had her fair share of rejection. After 11 years of serious writing she’s still only had three of her nine novels published. Does she give in? Certainly not. She overcomes the inner voice that constantly berates her by writing really really fast so she can outrun it! She aims for 2,000 words a day, and writes in bursts of 15 minutes at a time. ‘Nothing is too intimidating if you only have to do it for 15 minutes’, she says.

When Matilda Tristram was diagnosed with bowel cancer during her first pregnancy she used the experience to advantage by writing a comic diary about it! It was both therapeutic and confirming, educating and entertaining, emotionally beneficial and artistically valuable.

All power to the writing hands (and hearts and minds) of any who are struggling against demons within and without.

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