Wednesday, 14 October 2009



I dunno if it's cos I been ill this week and am having that post-ack downness thing, or because I found a one-star review of my book on Amazon (to accompany the three-star one, and between the two of them adding up to the only feedback received from the reading public), or because despite my best efforts to gag myself, I keep scattering pessimistic little moaners all over the web about how rubbish it is being a writer and how glad I am (which is clearly not true) that I no longer am. Or temporarily amn't. Or whatever.

Are you following me? Probably not. I do think that becoming a full-time writer was a bad decision, that I'm better off not doing it any more, that it wasn't doing me any good. But I'm also prepared to accept that my ongoing bitterness re the whole subject may be a tad subjective, and there were other life factors involved in me giving it up. And I really don't think it's fair of me to keep harping on about it to other writers who are quite happy doing what they do, and why the hell shouldn't they be? I'm just in a massive childish sulk about not getting a UK book deal and, crucially, not getting attention.

I do feel I can't write, that my books got progressively worse instead of better, that I won't ever feel motivated to properly finish my third book and go through the wearisome slog of finding an agent and a publisher and then selling my soul to the devil for the price of a cup of tea.

I find myself hollow-chuckling whenever I see writers expressing optimism. Ha, I think. You'll learn. I hate myself for thinking like that, and even more for expressing it. Whine moan whinge. Shut up, woman.

But I have a tendency to make dramatic statements and decisions, to throw infants and waste H2O merrily in the same direction without a thought as to whether they'll have a soft landing or not. I'll probably write again. I'll probably stop sulking at some point. I might even reconsider the whole publication hamster wheel. But I do suspect that the happiest writers are those who never even contemplate publication, and only do it for fun.

If only that were me.


Queenie said...

I think it's possible to do it for fun AND contemplate publication. But, in my experience, you do need to really enjoy the process - or, at least, most of it - because, however successful you are, it's 99.9% writing and only 0.1% publication.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Well, exactly. One of the reasons I suspect writing is not for me. But I feel like such a traitor for saying it! Like somehow it's just not allowed. No writer is ever allowed to leave the club, or only because they are fucked up and blocked and ultimately misguided - not because it'll actually improve the quality of their life.

Queenie said...

That's interesting. I don't think I'd feel the same - I think that if writing was adversely affecting my quality of life, I'd stop. I know other people who have done so. I wonder if part of the reason you feel as if it's traitorous to stop is because you come from a family of writers?

Lauri said...

Followed you from Michelle's blog about giving up the day job.

First I think we all get ONE life. There is no need to bash your head against the wall. If it ain't working, it ain't working. If you still love writing there are so many other, more economically viable ways to make a living writing. Also there are just other jobs- period.

But too- I've found the way to mitigate those one star reviews and all of the other downs about writing is to always have many pots going at one time. If I get a rejection on book A, I have contest X and then short story W and the book about to come out and the children's book with the editor. And when a bad thing comes- rejection, bad review- I shout at it and forget about it. One person's opinion- that's all. And move on.

Whatever you choose it's got to be right for you- nobody else matters really.

(climbing off my soap box and slinking away)

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

The thing is Queenie, as I think you probably know... it's overly simplistic to say that I don't enjoy writing, or even that it was adversely affecting my life. There are times and ways in which I enjoy writing immensely, or I wouldn't have done as much of it as I have. And my life was going wrong for many reasons other than my writing career, and it's very hard to disentangle it all.

Lauri, welcome! I'm about to write another post about all of this, which may explain it a little better.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

And I know I appear to be contradicting myself, but that's cos I'm human and that's what we do. ;)

Karen said...

I think you're entitled to moan. In any other job, if someone criticised what I was doing - even if other people were positive - I'd feel down and probably want to leave, even if I enjoyed it most of the time. Why should writing be any different? It's human nature (I think) to dwell on negative things people say.

I keep bouncing back because I want to write more than anything else. When I stop feeling like that I'll give up!