I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!
July 20, 2018
Our Recent Posts
July 20, 2018
A year ago I gave up my full time job to become a full time writer.
This was not an impetuous decision. I'd had four children's novels published by a first class publisher - one of which had been shortlisted for a national award. I'd also had my short stories published in several popular magazines. I had an amazing agent, noted for her ability to attract top talent. Oh, and I also had a Creative Writing MA which I passed, with distinction. I even had a MacBook Air!
I bought this domain name at the same time to chart my journey and to show others how they too could make a living writing full time.
I was all set to launch myself on my amazing new career. I was SO ready.
Except it didn't happen.
I wrote... nothing.
I tried. I tried so hard. But I had no inspiration, nothing came to me - I felt like my imagination had packed up and gone. Every idea I had was limp and lame. Everything felt forced. I started at least ten books but gave up after a couple of paragraphs.
As the summer ended and the kids went back to school, I began to panic. This was supposed to be my job. I wasn't doing it. I had a desk, I had a keyboard, why wasn't it working?
I looked for inspiration in other writers' books. But the panic just got worse. I thought 'Why didn't I think of that?' 'Why can't I write like that?'
I began to read about Writers' Block. The general advice seems to be that there's no such thing. Builders don't get Builders' Block - they just get on with it and that's what I needed to do.
So I forced myself to write a book. Anything. Something.
By now it was November and NaNoWriMo was happening. I NaNoWriMoed that book right out of me. Everyday I wrote words, words, words. I ignored my family, neglected my home, got fat from sitting in the chair all day, but I wrote. By Christmas it was done. 80,000 words of book wrangled out of my brain. I sent it to my agent.
She didn't like it.
She didn't even think it was salvageable. She thought it was too much like another author's recent books... but not as good. She told me to go away and come up with something else.
And that's kind of where I am now. And it's a funny place to be. Everyone thinks I'm a writer, everyone asks me how the new book is going. I smile, and lie. Because there isn't a new book. I still have Writers' Block. It's a real thing. And it's not the same as Builders' Block because you can't just work your way through it. I've tried. I tried for 80,000 words. But writing words is not the same as writing.
Thought this I've tried everything I can think of to move myself to a new headspace. I've bought books on plotting and motivation and beating resistance. I've mainlined Elizabeth Gilbert and Steven Pressfield. I've listened to podcasts, joined a Crit group, gone on courses. I've talked to writer friends and non writer friends. I've sacrificed goats to Calliope. Alright, that last bit's not actually true, but you get the idea.
And I've discovered some things.
Telling a Writer to work their way through Writers' Block is like telling someone who's depressed to cheer up. Or telling someone with dyslexia to just try harder to read. It doesn't work that way.
At the very bottom, fundamental level, it's about confidence and how you see yourself. Despite the books and the MA and the agent, underneath it all, I don't think I'm a good enough. I feel like it's all been a bit of a fluke - a series of coincidences and mistakes that ended in me somehow being called 'a writer'.
And maybe, while I still had my day job I could look at writing as a bit of a side hustle, a bit of fun, not to be taken seriously. Because how could I take it seriously, if it was all an accident anyway?
But once I gave up my job, it became real, who I am. And that part of me which felt like the whole thing was a big joke got scared to death. Because now the joke had to end and I was going to be shown up as what I'd known I was all along. A big fraud, with no imagination and little talent. A faker who'd blagged her way into the writing club, but was now hiding in the corner hoping she wouldn't be spotted and kicked out.
I'm scared I'll never get another book published. I'm scared because I dared to put myself on a pedestal, to declare myself a writer and perhaps getting shot down is inevitable (or if I'm really honest, what I think I deserve for being such a show off).
But I can't think like that, because if there is a way out of this then it definitely doesn't lie down that road.
And now I'm going to leave you on a cliffhanger, because I don't have the answer. I've started another book but if I think about it for more than a few minutes I get scared it's all rubbish.
I'm not giving up. I try to write something every day. Most days I delete what I've written, and I feel cross with myself for being so useless.
So this blog is no longer about how to make a living with your writing. It's a discovery voyage. It's a classic Hero's Journey. Will I find my way through? Does this story have a happy ending? I don't know. Keep reading.