56 thoughts on “★ And In The End”

  1. Hi Ian. Like Ed I’m toil­ing with my feel­ings over this. I guess I’m dis­mayed — not by your decision, it’s under­stand­able, but because once more main­stream pub­lish­ing chews up and spits out anoth­er tal­ent. I am also fed up about the state of it at the moment — tho I haven’t taken this ulti­mate decision yet. It might come in the future but I’m hold­ing off with the sup­port of my agent and a sliv­er of optim­ism. This deserves a longer response and I’ll post some­thing on my blog in due course. I won’t becthe only to say this is a ter­rible shame, and I pray to all the gods of pub­lish­ing that the books sell like hot-cakes on Lulu (and how about Stanza?).



  2. Hi Ian, Obviously I don’t know you at all, just read and enjoyed Deja Vu and been a fol­low­er on twit­ter, but I still feel a bit sad to hear your decision. However from your descrip­tion of the cir­cum­stances I under­stand it, and wish you all the best in your future endeav­ours.

    I’m glad the unpub­lished books will get an air­ing in some form. I would cer­tainly be up to buy the second (and third, I nev­er even real­ised there was a third) Saskia Brandt book, espe­cially if there was a ver­sion for Stanza (on my iPhone) iBooks (unlikely) or a format the Kindle app could read. However I also kinda like the idea of a prop­er paper copy from Hulu.

    By the way I was also kind of taken by your spec­u­lat­ive Doctor Who script teas­er. Is screen writ­ing harder to break into than nov­els?

    best wishes.

  3. Thanks for your thoughts, Matt. I hope you can hold on to that optim­ism for as long as you can. I think I’m still gen­er­ally optim­ist­ic about the industry; I think that, in gen­er­al, tal­ent will out. But, of course, what hap­pens in gen­er­al may not hap­pen in a giv­en case, and I’ve taken this long to decide that it isn’t going to work for me. The decision isn’t so ration­al as this, how­ever. I just can’t bear to write any­thing and I’m fairly sure I won’t for the fore­see­able future. Like I said, I think this hap­pens all the time, but only these days (with blogs etc.) do we see the pro­cess in action.

  4. Hey, By_Tor, thanks for your kind com­ments.

    I should cla­ri­fy that I’ll be mak­ing Lulu (or epub) ver­sions of my books chiefly to get clos­ure on them, and wouldn’t anti­cip­ate then selling more than a dozen cop­ies. It’s really to get them out of the door, out of my head, and onto the book­shelf.

    As for screen writ­ing, I think writ­ing for tele­vi­sion is prob­ably ‘easi­er’ in the sense that you’re more likely to be suc­cess­ful if you apply your­self to it (there being a large mar­ket for TV/radio drama and oth­er script­ing activ­it­ies, and large organ­isa­tions like the BBC act­ively sup­port­ing tal­ent). That said, there’s more of grind­ing appren­tice­ship to go through (Casualty, Doctors, and so on). If that’s where your instincts lie, very best of luck, mate.

  5. C’mon, Ian. You only run away when the crowd with torches actu­ally lights the hay in the barn on fire. Until then, you sol­dier on. Quitting is *not* an option.

  6. Hi Ian.

    I com­pletely under­stand your sen­ti­ments. I’ve not been writ­ing seriously–ie consistently–as long as you have, but have been toy­ing with sim­il­ar emo­tions myself for the last year or so.

    For what it’s worth, and in con­trast to the oth­er com­ments here, there’s a big part of me that not only under­stands, but approves of your decision. It’s a strange, com­plex thing, isn’t it.

    I think if it came to it, I could sur­render the writ­ing, but I’m going to crack on while there still a few aven­ues open to me. Save me a seat at the bar though, eh?

    Very best wishes,

  7. There’s a pint here with your name on it, mate.

    Someone (Michael Fuchs, I think) sent me a link to art­icle in which a paint­er stopped paint­ing and described it as the best gift she had ever giv­en her­self. There’s likely to be an ele­ment of cog­nit­ive dis­son­ance in this — but also an ele­ment of truth.

  8. Hi Ian

    I am in floods of tears. I don’t know you from Adam but, my friend, this blo­g­post has genu­inely touched my soul. As an aspir­ing writer who is now only tak­ing her­self ser­i­ously and block­ing time and writ­ing to dead­lines (self-imposed) and mak­ing those choices to not hang out with friends after work, because the WIP calls etc…it is both encour­aging and scary read­ing this post.

    Please don’t give up for forever. It’s been a long hard slog for you. But you clearly have writ­ing and words in the blood. That doesn’t go away. Ever.

    L x

  9. Ian,
    Please post on this blog when the oth­er books are avail­able. I have waited far too long already.
    I will buy.
    Or you can email me with prices and pay­ment meth­od and I will pre order.
    If they sell well (the read­ing pub­lic has bet­ter taste than the pub­lish­ing busi­ness) will you write more? Here’s hoping.(sp?)

  10. Hello Ian,
    I was poin­ted to your blog via Twitter and after read­ing it, I’ve sat in silence, con­tem­plat­ing, for 10 minutes. I’ve writ­ten two MS, with a third in the works. Received some nice com­ments from agents and pub­lished authors, but still there is the nag­ging doubt that I’m a B+ writer in an A+ world. I bought the writers year book in Exeter. I grew up read­ing Stephen King, so your words really struck a chord. ‘Life is what hap­pens when your busy mak­ing oth­er plans’ — tough to acknow­ledge, tough­er to accept. I hope your fic­tion finds a way through; if your nov­els are as thought-pro­vok­ing, intel­li­gent and hon­est as this blog, you deserve an audi­ence. Best, Shaun.

  11. Ian, it feels odd to be a stranger, com­ment­ing on such a per­son­al post. There were things in what you said that really struck a chord with me. I had so many of these feel­ings a few years ago, one being: what’s the point of pour­ing so much of myself and my energy into work that isn’t provid­ing a return? I felt like there were people and things that deserved that energy more, and that con­tinu­ing on, with little hope tra­di­tion­al suc­cess to share with them, was selfish.

    I went away for a few years. For the “writ­ing is like breath­ing!’ crowd, I sup­pose this is unthink­able, and made me less of a writer. Oh, whatever. It sounds to me like you’ll do a lot bet­ter with your self-released mater­i­al than a dozen sales and some clos­ure. I sin­cerely wish you the best of luck with that. After a rest, and the gain of a new per­spect­ive, I came back, and I’m glad. I wish that for you as well.

  12. I found this post via Twitter.

    First, it takes cour­age to quit some­thing you love so deeply. Second, now that you’ve quit, pay atten­tion for “signs” from The Universe that you either did the right thing or you didn’t. Believe me, I know of what I speak.

    I wish you the best of luck, Ian, and I applaud you for your pub­lic hon­esty.

  13. I carry on, nine­teen years in, because facing a future without writ­ing is more soul-crush­ing than facing a future with writ­ing. I have no choice.

    The beat­ings that a writer takes over the years can accu­mu­late until he or she is pulped. I fully under­stand.

    Good luck!

  14. I got here via an acquaintance’s recom­mend­a­tion on Buzz, and while I don’t know you I can’t res­ist drop­ping a com­ment.
    Your desire for read­ers doesn’t auto­mat­ic­ally mean you abso­lutely need to make it King style, with a fic­tion writ­ing career in the tra­di­tion­al (pos­sibly obsol­ete) pub­lish­ing industry. And I ima­gine you cur­rently have a “day job” oth­er than writ­ing fic­tion. So, why don’t you just donate your writ­ings to the world, in elec­tron­ic form?
    Such a bold act is sure to get you at least a few read­ers, and pos­sibly a half-decent repu­ta­tion if your nov­els really are pretty good. Then, who knows, in the “pub­lish­ing” envir­on­ment of tomor­row you may even be able to ret­ro­act­ively cash in on such an act, some­how.
    (Disclaimer: I hope read­ing this didn’t give you a head­ache, English being not my nat­ive lan­guage.)

  15. You write because there is some­thing in your head and you don’t when it’s gone. Then like any crafts­man when you have honed the skill and you can do it any­way. Then one day you have just had enough and have to stop. Take a break and rest you may come back to it or maybe not because there is some­thing else. I have already had three careers, com­ing to the end of the third. I am try­ing to write all the pub­lished stuff relates to my third car­reer as a law­yer but my good friend (two nov­els pub­lished three lying fal­low includ­ing the second of a two book deal) gave me Steven King’s book on writ­ing and I have (last year’s) hand­book so no prizes for guess­ing what I try next. Pardon rub­bish typ­ing and draft­ing not prop­erly mastered iPhone yet and was led to your post on Twitter (fol­low­ing now). All ther very best of luck. C

  16. Hi Liz

    Thanks for your com­ment, and I hope I didn’t upset you too much. I’m afraid it’s very likely that this is the end for me; but I hope you do see some of this as encour­aging.


  17. Hi JFV

    Thanks for your com­ments. I think you’re prob­ably right that there is a mar­ket on the Kindle — poten­tially a large one (Scott Pack wrote an inter­est­ing recent post on his blog about sales fig­ures from The Friday Project’s ebooks: http://meandmybigmouth.typepad.com/scottpack/2010/08/some-digital-numbers.html). Whether it’s pos­sible to get these num­bers without the push of a pub­lish­er, I don’t know.

    Best of luck with your writ­ing,

  18. Hi John S.

    Thanks for your encour­age­ment. As I wrote earli­er, I can’t see myself ever get­ting back to writ­ing. And, if I do, it’s likely to be a Salinger-esque way where I write only for myself. I’ll nev­er say ‘nev­er’ but at this stage I will say ‘prob­ably nev­er’ 🙂

    Best wishes,


  19. Hi Nicola,

    Thanks for your com­ment. Try not to ache too much; remem­ber there are plenty of suc­cess stor­ies out there (indeed, they’re over repor­ted). Meanwhile, I’m enjoy­ing my retire­ment 🙂

    Best wishes

  20. Hi Shaun

    Thanks for your com­ment and your kind words about my blog. Growing up read­ing Stephen King will be a train­ing for any writer. And don’t worry about being B+. For a start, your writ­ing is likely to be bet­ter than you think it is; and it will only get bet­ter the deep­er into the craft you go. There’s also the con­sol­a­tion that the pub­lish­ing industry doesn’t work on A+ mater­i­al — it needs sale­able mater­i­al that may range from A-C. But that’s to be neg­at­ive about it. If you enjoy writ­ing, keep on truck­ing.

    Best wishes


  21. Hi Susan

    Thanks for your com­ments. Yes, there is an ele­ment of selfish­ness about writ­ing. There are the years of work — but what about the hours? It’s come to the point for me where the neg­lect has become too much — or maybe it’s anoth­er reas­on. Whatever; writ­ing gets on my nerves right now and I don’t think it’s going to change.

    Thanks for you best wishes — I wish you luck with your own work, too.


  22. Hi K. M. Walton,

    Thanks for your com­ment. I’m not sure what the uni­verse has to say yet, but I’ll watch out for signs.


  23. Hi Matthew

    Thanks for your com­ment. I know what you mean about not being able to ima­gine a future with writ­ing, par­tic­u­larly when it feels that your iden­tity is bound up in it. I guess I’m try­ing to take the reins here…

    Yours pulped,

  24. Hi Rafu

    Thanks for your com­ments. No, I’m not inter­est­ing in mak­ing it King-style. I’m inter­ested in hav­ing more than a dozen read­ers. Money isn’t the issue (though, at the end of the day, what we’re look­ing for, I think, is a job, and there’s no need to apo­lo­gise for that). And I will indeed be donat­ing these to the world (or at least releas­ing them in some form…).

    Best wishes


  25. Hi Catherine

    Thanks for your com­ments and your best wishes. Yes, a break would be a good thing gen­er­ally, but I think this one will prove per­man­ent.

    Best of luck with your writ­ing,

  26. Hi Ian. I’m not really sure what to say to this. So I’ll simply send you my very best wishes and hope that everything works out for the best, whatever that may be.


  27. Hi Ian, I got here via the WriteWords for­um. I can identi­fy with your post a lot after hav­ing a nov­el pub­lished by a small inde­pend­ent press in 2009. Particularly your points about mak­ing sac­ri­fices. I still feel great about being pub­lished, but I could have done a much bet­ter job of bal­an­cing my cre­at­ive goal with everything else in life.


  28. Thanks for your com­ment, Andy. I guess bal­ance is what we’re all look­ing for — good luck find­ing it.


  29. Hi Ian

    I found this post very mov­ing, and it really has made me think hard. The decision is yours and I think it’s a good one, but not because I don’t think you’re a good writer with a chance of get­ting widely pub­lished. If I didn’t think that you were a good writer I would nev­er have encour­aged you to per­sist.

    Why I think it’s the right decision, right now, is two things. One is that you say you don’t enjoy read­ing any more, and: ‘Given a choice between the two – lit­er­at­ure and the stuff on my hard drive – I choose lit­er­at­ure.’ That’s the right choice.

    The oth­er is your thoughts that it’s time to *do* psy­cho­logy rather than *do* writ­ing. Because it reminds me of a piece of psy­cho­logy that kept me going through my first nov­el and sev­er­al more. It came from a piece of writ­ing by Brian Micklethwait, about how he had become quite a pro­lif­ic writer of non-fic­tion (liber­tari­an pro­pa­ganda). It came about, he said, when he’d stopped think­ing of him­self primar­ily as a writer and star­ted think­ing of him­self as primar­ily a bookshop/office work­er for the Libertarian Alliance (which indeed he was) and con­cen­trated on being good at that. He referred to the com­edy Western ‘Support Your Local Sheriff!’ where the char­ac­ter played by James Garner kept say­ing, while being the loc­al sher­iff, ‘Basically, I’m on my way to Australia.’

    So I kept say­ing to myself and oth­er people, as I worked on these nov­els, ‘Basically, I’m a com­puter pro­gram­mer’. And des­pite that fact that I knew it was a mind trick, it worked. Variants of it still do.

    So put the writ­ing aside, as finally as you wish, and say to your­self and every­one else, ‘Basically, I’m a research psy­cho­lo­gist.’

    And … what Nik Perring said.

  30. Ian, I hope you don’t mind but I’ve used this as the basis for a post on Strictly Writing. Wishing you all the very, very best for what you do next, wheth­er writ­ing related or not. Respect.

  31. Pingback: The Second Pass
  32. Hi Ian.
    Just come to you from write­words.
    How I sym­path­ise. Like you I came to writ­ing after read­ing the mighty Stephen. I now have four nov­els com­pleted, non pub­lished, and the years are catch­ing me up. I’m on the verge of giv­ing up too, with ebooks in the back of my mind. I can’t decide wheth­er to walk away or keep on keep­ing on. I woke up star­ing at the ceil­ing in the early hours this morn­ing and thought if the house burnt down los­ing com­puter and print offs would I carry on. And you know what? I wouldn’t, so the decision is prob­ably made, right there.
    All the very best to you from up the road in Faversham.

  33. Hi Barry

    Many thanks for your com­ment. Try not to make the decision too hast­ily; but if you’ve felt it com­ing for a while now, it might work out for the best.

    Best of luck (and enjoy the Morris dan­cers this week­end 🙂

  34. If there was ever proof that there is no god of writ­ing it is that Terry Pratchett has Alzheimers and Dan Brown does not.

  35. Hi Ian,

    Although I star­ted writ­ing my first nov­el when I was thir­teen, I didn’t com­plete one until I was in my mid thirties. I remem­ber the sum­mer when I was fin­ish­ing it, telling a friend that writ­ing had turned ser­i­ous for me and that it was some­thing I just had to do. I gave myself ten years to give it my very best shot.

    I fin­ished the book, got an agent, got a pub­lish­er and – like many a first nov­el – mine van­ished without a trace. I car­ried on writ­ing. My career went into tick-over, I car­ried on writ­ing. My agent didn’t like my second book and dumped me. I car­ried on writ­ing. My long-term rela­tion­ship broke up – I got my cre­at­ive writ­ing mas­ters from UEA and car­ried on writ­ing. I got a new agent who loved my second book – but couldn’t sell it. She quite liked my third book – but genre not fash­ion­able so she dumped me.

    Nobody liked my fourth, fifth or sixth books. The craft industry that had been my career more or less dis­ap­peared and I had to take badly paid agency work to pay the bills. High levels of stress, lack of time and energy made writ­ing very dif­fi­cult although I man­aged to start anoth­er book – I’m about a third the way through.

    The ten years I gave myself to ‘give it my best shot’ has turned into twenty-five. Maybe the Universe is telling me it’s time to hang up my MacBook (first nov­el star­ted on an Olympia 33 – how times change).

    I read your very mov­ing retire­ment let­ter and deeply empath­ised. How many times have I been there? My first reac­tion was one of gloom. You’ve had some suc­cess, you have a sup­port­ive agent, your fin­ances are okay – but it really is so bad out there you feel you can’t go on. Oh dear.

    Well, fif­teen years is a reas­on­able com­mit­ment. The most import­ant reas­on for your decision, for me, is that you don’t actu­ally enjoy writ­ing any more. And if it doesn’t give you pleas­ure, really – why both­er?

    So. Good call. It seems to me that your writ­ing has become a bur­den to you. So you’re right to put it down; you’ll travel light­er without it. There have been many times when I have felt writ­ing to be a bur­den and have had to put it down. Turned out just to be a way to get a bet­ter grip on it… But that’s just me. Stubborn, see? Don’t know when I’m beat.

    Very best wishes to you for the future. (Some of my favour­ite people are psy­cho­lo­gists – nice one).

    A ques­tion, though. Have you ever con­sidered try­ing genres oth­er than that of sci-fi? I only ask because my latest nov­el is a com­plete depar­ture from any­thing I’ve ever writ­ten before – or even thought I could – and it’s been fun. Just a thought.

  36. Hi Joanne

    Wow, what a com­ment! Many thanks for tak­ing the time. It sounds like your jour­ney through the writ­ing world has been tough — and I applaud your stay­ing power.

    Best of luck with it,

  37. Just read about your retire­ment, Ian and though it makes me sad I can fully under­stand and sym­path­ise with your reas­ons. (!!CLICHE ALERT!!) However, nev­er say nev­er. If life teaches any­thing it’s that it’s unpredictable.I think it most unlikely that you won’t one day come out of retire­ment. Good luck with whatever you do and best wishes to your­self and Britta.

  38. I only just read your post and I’m deeply moved, shocked and very sad. I’m sure it took a tre­mend­ous amount of cour­age to fol­low your dream and trust the unknown. Equally I’m sure it took a tre­mend­ous amount of cour­age to allow your­self to change dir­ec­tion and trust the unknown.

    Personally I can only trust that a tal­ent like yours will nev­er be allowed to stay hid­den. It needs to be shared and cel­eb­rated.

    All the best matey
    x Rinske

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