Wednesday, 27 February 2013

A Writer on the Edge of Giving Up...

Two weeks ago I scribbled a possible title in my diary for today's post. It was not a good day. 'This writer is on the verge of giving up,' I scrawled. Then my internal editor kicked in and said: 'No, you can't possibly write that. It will discourage other people and what will they think of you?'

I decided to give it a bit of time. I got back from a week in my seaside flat this afternoon and saw, with rather a shock, that tomorrow was the 26th and I had not yet written my blog. Nor did I have any ideas - just that barely-legible note from a fortnight ago.

So I will go with that. It has not been an easy few months, writing-wise. I am very disappointed with sales (or rather lack of them) of my self-published books. I know it's probably my own fault for not being sufficently committed to publicity. But I've tried so many things, all time- and energy-consuming, some of them costing money, and to be honest, I'm rather sick of all the social networking. Not, I hasten to add, of chatting to friends and getting to know fellow authors - that's the fun part. But using social media to try to persuade people to read my stuff - well, folks, it just aint working for me.

Going off to the seaside is good in a number of ways, one of which is that my current internet connection there is lousy, so I can't even reply to emails very easily, and the thought of trying to blog and tweet and Facebook and all the rest... it's just not possible.

Which gives me all these empty hours. Some of them I spend walking (well wrapped up, this past week), on the cliffs or on the beach. Wonderful. I've caught up on reading (just discovered Barbara Pym - how could I not have read her books before now? So very funny - and her career is rather inspiring too, but that's for another time). I've been listening to piano music and decided I would like to have a go at playing again. But most of all, I've been sitting with a notebook and pen, just thinking. And scribbling. Not just messages to myself about giving up writing, though there was a bit of that. But one or two characters turned up - ones I already knew a bit - and suggested to me that they might have developed a bit further while I had my eye on other things.

So I listened in and wrote down what they said. I rediscovered some of the joys of just writing, nothing else. With no eye on the clock. No jumping back and forth between different books. No juggling with household chores. Not even thinking about who might eventually read this stuff or how to make it accessible and visible. Just me and the notebook and pen.

It was lovely. That's really all I can say. This is a short post, partly because I haven't given myself much time but also because I don't have a lot to say. Except - I haven't quite given up, not yet...

Best wishes
Ros



18 comments:

Reb MacRath said...

Don't you dare give up, Ros. The joy you found in those quiet moments, not a thought in your head except the pulsing heart in each blank page....This is why you matter as a writer. Surely most of us have moments when we could scream or jump from high bar stools out of sheer disgust at the need for self-promotion. We're writers, not carnival barkers. And yet we all need to try at least to find some balance between the writing and the barking. Your sadness and weariness brought you back to your pure center. I look forward to reading your work.

Lee said...

I know the feeling all too well, and though I'm tempted to echo Reb's view - don't you dare give up - it's also true that stopping is not necessarily giving up. There are many good and satisfying things to do in life.

But whatever you decide, please don't base it on sales or social media. You can write without having to run a business, and yes, there are really some of us out there who think social media a great waste of time, at least for the most part.

Lynne Garner said...

I know how you feel. I check my sales each day and am disappointed. However I then think hey someone in this huge world has taken a chance on my work. They don't know me, will be unlikely to ever meet or talk to me but they've taken a chance. Yes I'd like to see more 0's on the end of the total sales but that will happen, it just takes time. And in the meantime there are people reading my work who never would have done if I hadn't self published. So don't you give up, keep going.

Dennis Hamley said...

Ros, I recognise everything you say here. Since I realised that Walker weren't going to publish any more of my books I sort of switched off writing because the old 'what's the point?' devil was sitting on my shoulder. Only AE saved me - and even now I've only republished old books, though with the welcome chance to revise the and sort out glaring faults which have looked at me mockingly from the pages for years. But I'm gradually picking up the pieces, again thanks to other AEs and their encouragement and frightening examples. Like you, I can't bring myself to do the social media bit, though there are other sensible things I could do and don't. But I don't worry too much any more when the meagre payments from Amazon come in: the knowledge the the books are out there again and accessible to those who want them is satisfying enough. For the moment. But the green shoots, as they say, may be appearing again.

Lydia Bennet said...

Barbara Pym is my favourite novelist, I've read her novels to rags. Pleased to hear you've become a fan! I think your feelings are natural, and it's a risk with self-pub that we can be caught up in sales figures and stats and forget why we do this in the first place. you just needed some downtime, and there it is, waiting for you. you are a writer, and writing is what you do. the other stuff is incidental. a timely reminder for us all! enjoy your writing and don't worry too much about sales or saleability. I'm speaking to myself here as well!

Jen Alexander said...

I imagine every author has had that experience, Ros, and this post is a good reminder that it's actually about the writing, and the writing is a joyful thing. Walking on the coast or moor is how I reconnect as well. Most grounding :)

Bill Kirton said...

Mainly, I just want to echo what the others have said. It's a pretty familiar feeling really, but it goes away.
Two other things, though. First, I spent two hours yesterday evening at a life drawing class. I'm rubbish at it, but the time passed in total absorption and even the garbage on the paper before me couldn't dispel the feeling of complete satisfaction at having been in that lovely cocoon unaware of self, surroundings or anything. When we're lucky, writing gives us that, too.
And second, last night I got an email from a small film company in Los Angeles praising a short story of mine and asking permission to adapt it for the screen. I know nothing ever comes of such things but it was a story I wrote 25 years ago. Life's absurd and so are its surprises.

Mark Chisnell said...

Step back from the edge, Ros! It's not about the sales, it's about the satisfaction of just one person enjoying the story.

Debbie said...

One person enjoying your book is all that counts. Makes it all worthwhile. Hugs xx

Hywela Lyn said...

Never give up Ros - I have to admit it's really hard trying to juggle all the social media in an effort to keep ones name 'out there'. I'm in the position of having spent so much time doing that I've written nothing new for ages. That has to change. I won't give up my friends on the net, but I need to refocus and spend a lot less time on line!

Pauline Fisk said...

Well Ros, here I am with a heavy head cold and hacking cough, sitting on the sofa under a duvet feeling sorry for myself - and you are the first thing [sorry, person] all day that has made me sit up!! Of course you mustn't give up. If only one person more read your books than would have happened otherwise, you've achieved something - and I'm sure it's not as bad as that. I, for one, am amongst that number and I enjoyed Charity's Child very much and it gave me much food for thought.

I identify with your despondence though. It seems we've come through the gung-ho phase of thinking the world is about to change courtesy of electronic publishing, but perhaps more than anything it's OURSELVES who've changed. Like Dennis said, losing a publisher is desperately undermining and if it takes electronic publishing, and a group like AE, to give an injection of confidence to start on new work, how brilliant is that.

PS. Am I the only one who's thought that an AE inspired film is something we should collectively write? Not quite sure which of us would be played by Bill Nighy, Dame Maggie Smith and Dame Judy Dench, but talented/interesting older persons seem to be quite of the moment amongst film topics recently [not that I'm assuming we're all old].

Pauline Fisk said...

'...banding together, overcome odds and coming out glowing with success' I meant to add before I so rudely cut myself off.

Reb MacRath said...

See, Ros? Your support group is swelling...and so will the infernal 'numbers' in time. Write like the star you are.

Rosalie Warren said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments and support. I did some writing first thing this morning. And I think the film is a wonderful idea!

Enid Richemont said...

Ros - like everyone else here, I know EXACTLY where you're at, and at present I'm feeling the same way - tired of the unencouraging sales figures, and bored with, and embarrassed by, self-promotion.
Dennis - might we chat about Walker via email some time?
Re-the film. Might we do a WI-type calender thing, but only when the weather warms up? Only joking...

Enid Richemont said...

PS Either Blogger's got its knickers in a twist, or Hywela and I have, because we seem to have swapped dates (not that it matters).

Hywela Lyn said...

Enid - sorry if I nicked your space - Sue contacted me and said I'd been rescheduled for the 28th, I'd actually assumed I wouldn't be posting at all this month, because of February only being 28 days long!
(Confusion reigns)

Enid Richemont said...

All very puzzling, and probably due to it being February (or something). March hares to come, and mad hatters, doubtless, to follow.