ALTITUDE SICKNESS - ACCLIMATISING TO DIZZY HEIGHTS by Valerie Laws
|Yes that's me, I've gone 'up to eleven'!|
It’s a thing. Writers and artists suffer from altitude sickness, it’s not just me.
After my last post on some ups and downs in a writer’s life, now I tackle how to deal with the ups. Especially as I’ve had a few since then, my poetry on Radio 4’s The World At One, and, see photo above, my crime novel on sale in WHSmith. I deal better with failure than success, which I guessed was because of the proud endurance of hardship ingrained in me by my poor working class Tyneside background, and the feeling that ‘too good to be true’ was a thing as well for ‘the likes of me’. That might seem an advantage, as most writers see a lot more of the former than the latter, and I’m no exception, but it’s not. My inner Eeyore has sabotaged me, losing fab opportunities out of fear of things going ‘too’ right. It also spoils the enjoyment of those few precious successes which would make a nice break from the steeling of self-esteem to cope with projects crashing and burning or work rejected.
|What if every branch of Smith's, & the printer's, is eaten by sharks?|
Then, on my birthday last Friday, well ahead of schedule, my daughter’s boyfriend was in Smiths on Aberdeen station, and looked for my book, and there it was, front forward, and 11 in their chart! Back up to euphoria again, and then my daughter saw it in Newcastle Central Station, ticketed ‘All-time recommended read’.
However, speaking to a writer friend from a very different background, who is currently enjoying well-deserved and hard-earned success much greater than mine, gave me new food for thought. They said they’d had the same feeling of panic and shock when it all kicked off, and had heard that many artists and writers had anxiety caused by sudden success after years of struggle and obscurity. My friend suggested that being hard-wired by experience to recognise failure, the adrenaline rush of any kind of success or recognition was interpreted by our brains as a threat, like the sense of rejection or failure. By some strange synchronicity, I saw a facebook link to this article by the writer of ' Eat, Pray, Love', on how she dealt with sudden massive success and the pressure of following it up. Do read the piece, but if you don’t have time, her basic message is, Stick with what you love to do, or as she puts it, your ‘home’, in her case writing; keep sticking with it, and let the external stuff look after itself. The same advice you’d get for dealing with your nth rejection.
|'Come on, chaps, just one more metaphor! You can do it!'|
|'Almost at the top of this scene...'|
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