Missing - One Mojo, by Debbie Bennett

Katherine recently pointed out that Authors Electric has been going for ten years. As I’ve said on Facebook, that means I’ve put out over 120 random witterings over the years and I wonder where I dredge up all this rubbish from? Most of the random musings are 11th-hour-I-need-to-come-up-with-something-right-now posts, with the occasional gem, where I've had an idea or a thought and run with it, letting it take me where it will, with some googling thrown in along the way for luck. But it's been a quick ten years - time really does go faster the older you get. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose and all that ...

So what's changed for me and my cohorts? By this, I mean the group of us who started at more-or-less the same time: those people I knew already who jumped on the indie bandwagon with me back in 2011, those I ended up sitting close to as the wagon began bumping its way down the rocky path of publishing, or the writers who joined me months or years into my journey, as we swapped stories along the way and helped each other out.

What of my fellow-travellers, ten years later? I have friends (real-life and Facebook) who are prolific indies with dozens of books out there, and those who have since signed to publishers. All are making a good living from writing and that’s great. I have friends who got off the wagon long ago, or more recently, and have moved into other creative pursuits – some still sell books but are less inclined to spend their waking lives obsessing over writing/editing/marketing. And that’s all good too. Everybody chooses their own path.

But me? Seven novels and a short-story collection later, and I wonder if I’m almost at my stop and it’s time to get off the wagon. Somewhere along the ride I’ve lost my mojo – maybe another traveller picked it up by mistake, or perhaps it’s under a seat somewhere and I just need to find it? I don’t seem to be able to sustain a piece of writing for any length at the moment and I’m not sure if it’s a lack of self-confidence (thank you, menopause!) or a consequence of having spent so long on a series with well-developed characters that now I’m finding it so much harder to start over. I can't put my finger on what it is at the moment. It doesn't help that I have at least two other works-in-progress of significant (50k+) word count, neither of which I can summon up any enthusiasm to finish! For a while I was content with the community radio play project I was involved in, but Covid pretty much killed that off and I think it's beyond resurrection this time. I'd like to do something with the scripts, but one of the other writers (there were four or five of us in total, but over 50% of them are mine) won't give me permission to use her work. I think she still hopes to see it all produced, but I just can't face the huge admin overhead of a new cast, re-recording yet again and all the post-production work recordings involve. I've written a couple of short stories too, but I'm finding it near impossible to sit down and actually write these days.

And that's a little scary. I've always been a writer. I've written since primary school, when the rest of the class would hand in a page of 'story' and I'd hand in a dozen or more. Writing defines me - or it did, anyway. And if I'm not a writer, then who am I? A middle-aged mum and wife? An IT developer a couple of years shy of retirement? What else is there?

So I’ve booked myself on an Arvon course later this month. Five days away from it all, with a bit of structure in the form of tutors. I’m hoping I can get some momentum. I want to write. I want to want to write, if that even makes sense? It just isn't coming together at the moment, when somehow it's so much easier to watch Netflix instead ...

I'll report next month. Either the writing journey will be full-speeding ahead, or I'll have jumped off and wandered into the sunset ... oooh, is there a story in there, somewhere?

Comments

Jan Needle said…
Do not despair, Debbie. You are a writer, and once a writer always a writer. You can't get out of it that easy! But you can take a break and stop worrying. My money is on you waking up one day to find your missing Mojo biting you on the bum. Courage, mon brave!
Elizabeth Kay said…
I sympathise. When my agent died five years ago it knocked me for six. I have now realised how much I relied on her common sense and encouragement - and insider knowledge. I couldn't even face writing anything, because I didn't know where to send it. The problem with self-publishing is publicity, and if you're not the sort of person who lives on social media you're in trouble. So I did what you're doing, Debbie. Booked myself on a six week course, advanced and expensive, so no time wasters or illiterates. And I managed to write a book. At the moment I am waiting to hear from three agents who have expressed an interest, so fingers very much crossed. But I do think Covid has taken its toll in unexpected ways, and most of us are suffering from varying degrees of depression. Hang in there.
Hope the course works! Even if you do jump off the train, you can always catch the next one. My writing life since leaving school has happened almost the other way round to yours, with a huge gap in the middle somewhere and then a kick-start when there was a death in the family that made me realise if I wanted to be a writer then I'd better get on with it. Retiring from my day job of 30 years seems to have given it another kick-start.
Peter Leyland said…
Great Debbie. You've put your finger on many things that fellow writers and would-be writers like myself will recognise. I think the main thing is not giving up. I hope the course does you good and I will look forward to hearing about it.
Bill Kirton said…
I’m just going to echo what the others have said, Debbie, because they’re right. You’re a writer, no question. You may decide to set up an international haulage business or train to be a Vet (or even – plus c'est la même chose – become an interpreter) but you’ll still be a writer. For years I’ve been pretending I’m writing the final party of my Figurehead trilogy and ages ago, I even wrote the opening chapters, but secretly I know I’m a con-artist (except that, recently, I’ve had a couple of ideas that may break an inner deadlock about it). But see? That’s still part of the con. But at least it's by the writer bit. So I’ll amend my self-identification to con-artist-writer (and the important bit’s the last one). Bon courage.
Sandra Horn said…
My mojo has always been a will-o-the-wisp kind of thing, but it has often responded to the kind of initiative you are proposing, so good luck and please keep us posted!
Reb MacRath said…
You're definitely a writer, and a fine one at that. A new series may be calling you...or something entirely unexpected. Your mojo will return. Have faith!
Kirsten Bett said…
Hi Debbie, having read this blog, wow,10 years, blogs like this? You are definitely a writer. And I also agree there is a story in this blog and you will find it! Have FUN at the course. My mojo always comes back when I am not looking for it but wondering about things or people...

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