Harvesting Energy

When most of your interaction is with writers – I mean online interaction, blogs, tweets, facebook, etc etc etc – you inevitably meet messages such as “Congrats to X, her debut book is out today” “Just got a call from an agent” “Just got partial request” “Just got request for full ms” “Just got offered contract with multi-million advance and Cameron Diaz is booked to play me in my biopic”. Ok, maybe not the last one.

You have two options. Well, three, but burying your head in the sand doesn’t help and the sand is murder to get out of your ears.

You can 1) get cheered on by everyone’s success, feeling energised and motivated by the fact that publishers are buying books, the public are buying books (otherwise the publishers wouldn’t be), there’s room for rookies in the market, hard work generally pays off in the end. You harness this positivity and steam on with your own work just knowing that it’ll all come right in the end.

Or, you can 2) sink into gloom seeing that everyone has success but you because they’ve got the talent and determination to get words down, polished, edited, submitted while you’re sitting here tweeting or blogging or drowning in ironing and collapsing exhausted on the sofa at the end of the day; publishers and the public ARE buying books but obviously they won’t want yours because it’s a pile of poo that doesn’t say anything or have any deep and meaningful relevance to young people today.

Hmm. No prizes for guessing which camp I’m in right at this very minute. Now, I know I answered my own question – I’m not sitting down getting the words written; or I am; but only about 750 words at a time. To be honest, tweeting is quicker, easier and requires less energy which is one thing I’m a bit short of at the minute. I am very proud of the progress I’ve made on A Perfect Mess so far, and of the few reactions I’ve had to the start of it, but right now the end seems a long way off. I don’t think it’s a pile of poo, but it will be if I keep sitting on it. I need to stop this analogy now, the pictures are getting a bit disturbing. I’m just at that point where I’m doubting myself and I’m too far involved with the story to let it go and move onto something else but there’s an awful lot still to write.

Anyway, now I’ve let that off my chest, I actually feel a bit better. Maybe I can go harvesting some positive energy from my Twitter friends’ streams…


I find myself in one of those places right now. You know where I mean. Swinging between fired up with enthusiasm for writing – ideas pouring out of every brain cell (until you sit down at the computer), supreme confidence that the next email will NOT be a rejection (except that I know it will be), The Phone Call will come (apart from the certain knowledge that it’s a pre-recorded advert for ‘No win, no fee’ sharks) and I WILL be published because I’m good, darn it (yeah, right).

I have things to work on – I actually have works in progress, plans and goals that are slightly more defined than “write something”. And I’m not totally depressed by the many rejections I’ve had so far. I had a blip last week where there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but I do know that every one gets rejected, it’s par for the course, and if I want to be a Real Writer I’d better just get used to it, and JK Rowling had 50 million rejections and agents cursing themselves left right and centre, and one day my time will come, and… Yeah, anyway. But I’m finding myself paralysed.

Partly paralysed by exhaustion – brought on by the very inconsiderate sleeping habits of my baby and toddler. But also by the feeling that every word I write is leading towards kill or cure. I will either begin to see some progress, or I will lose all faith in myself. I’m hoping that I’m edging towards cure – as I said, I do have some plans and a couple of rays of light. But I’m stopping myself from really sitting down for a good spell at the computer by worries that I’m just not good enough and maybe it’s all pointless after all.

I need two things. I really, really need a good kick up the behind. I know the best thing I can do is start writing again and sending stuff out because The Call/Email/Letter will never come if I don’t but I need a push to get my brain out of that paralysis and moving again. I also need a big boost in self-confidence. My family are very encouraging, my writerly friends are amazing but I think (without being dramatic?) I need more. I need positive feedback – even if it’s in a rejection – and some real, deep constructive criticism. So I’m praying for both and I’m giving myself the kick up the bum (which is very difficult, ever tried? You need to be a real contortionist). I probably also need to stop writing self-pitying blog posts – this could have been 500 words of my novel…

Thanks for listening, folks. Tune in again.

PS keep an eye out for some exciting interviews coming to My Little Notepad soon…