Friday, 20 February 2009

Woof woof argh get off and let me write happy things

Slightly late coffee this morning as I didnt get time to type this up last night. Help yourself to brews and biscuits, there's a posotive array of lovely drinks sitting around for the Racers today and if you're really lucky there might be some slightly naughty choccy cake hidden under the lid of the biscuit jar... unless I have already eaten it in my enormous strop.

No, there is some left. Hurrah.

I feel so epically BLAH today I am going to have gin, yes I know it's too early!

My question this morning is very simple and is rather apt for me today. I am in a foul mood, couldnt be fouler if I actually was a chicken to be quite frank. There is a black eyed dog sitting under my desk nibbling my toes, and because I didnt save the Metro off the Tube this morning I cant even whack him on the nose with a newspaper. Everything is wrong side out today.

So how do you other writers* cope when you are feeling 'nowty' as my good old Yorkshire mum would say? When you look at your work and think God this is a load of tripe even when other people, clever people, have informed you that it is actually rather good and when you are feeling normal about things you think it is good too? How do you get yourself out of the writing gloom? What do you do when you can't stop thinking about what would have happened if you'd given up the writing dream to actually concentrate on another, more lucrative, easier to break into type career?

I am almost 30, and if I had known when I was 16 and choosing my career path that I would have had a series of crappy admin jobs to keep me afloat financially while chasing 'writer' as my future career, I'd have gone into law or medicine like I planned when I was first picking my GCSEs.

Sorry for the rather whiney nature of this post. I clearly need putting in a bag and shaking up (another good old Yorkshire mum saying).

*I'm not even sure I get to call myself a writer today. See I am feeling that chuffing negative. It's so rubbish. Sorry for mincing at everyone, there are far more important things to be negative about, at least I have a job and a partner and my health etc etc.


Flowerpot said...

I think we all get gloomy times like that. I am feeling rather like that too, having had a bad bout of health over the last few weeks which has left me so exhausted that I cant write, can only walk the dog for about 20 mins - the two great loves of my life. I guess I just try and keep positive. The sun is shining. Count my blessings. Take every day as it comes. I guess I'm a poorly writer at the moment!

Graeme K Talboys said...

I'm going through this just now, but not writing makes me even worse, so I just try to pound out something each day. I think giving yourself permission to write crap, is important. It doesn't matter what you write, as long as you write. I find when I give up worrying about it, it usually turns out quite good (and if not, it is fixable).

As for playing 'what if...'; it didn't. That is why Ruskin's motto is so important to me: Today.

ChrisH said...

Yeps, Graeme's right, although it's tough love, the only answer, (apart from alcohol, chocolate, running, playing nasty music at full volume etc) is to write. Feel the fear and do it anyway! Hope you are feeling better now!

Anonymous said...

When I'm feeling low about my writing, the first thing I usually do is go and read other writers' blogs and web sites for inspiration. I also (sometimes) do what you do, Juliette, and muster support from my friends and colleagues by posting on my own blog. It's great to be part of a supportive community in situations like this.

Something to think about - something I'm learning and, believe it or not, enjoying - is that there's more to "writing" than just writing. There's also: planning, plotting, research, storyboarding, character evolution, editing, submitting, receiving rejections, kicking, screaming... oh, sorry. You get the idea though.

As for career, I very quickly came to the conclusion that writing, though a passion, is not going to pay my bills. Ever. I do have a dream but I know it's just a dream to follow. Nothing wrong with being idealistic; I just need to be realistic as well. Having said all that, I still haven't chosen my new career. In the mean time I'm adjusting my CV and learning new skills. Today I'm looking at AJaX...

...Hang on, aren't I supposed to be writing?

I hope that was a bit of a bag-shaker-upper. If not, go and get a hug from GG. In the mean time, here's a virtual one from me to {{you}}.

Leatherdykeuk said...

I always feel crappy about it. Even with a book on the virtual shelves (because no bookstore will actually stock it) I still feel I'm a hack.

Just keep writing.

Fiona said...

Have a choccy biscuit Juliette - maybe not with gin though - and rest assured you are not alone.

When I first decided that instead of thinking about it, I would write a novel, I spend happy months/years in la la land thinking that all I needed to do was finish it, do a bit of polishing and it would have a good chance of getting published. Then I read a few how to books, got rejected, got my short stories rejected and realised it would take a huge learning curve to stand a chance. This p's me off mightily but there is now nothing else I can do except keep going because writing makes me high and safer than drugs and less sweaty than jogging.

You're not yet thirty, you have loads and loads of time and from what I've read, you can certainly write.

Have I made you feel worse? Sorry, have a gin after all.

Rowan Coleman said...

Oh Juliette you are so young, I wrote my first book when I was 29 and everyone said why did you leave it so late? And I said because I had to live a bit of life first before I could write about it. External forces are always with you when you write, this week for me my book is in the shops and I'm anxious as to how sales will hold up in these difficult time because even though I'm thrilled and delighted to have published my seventh novel this is a cut throat business and established writers are being dropped. A long career is rarely a certain thing for any writer. And no life is free from complications, especially mine at the moment! But you have to crack on. There isn't any other choice.

Calistro said...

Oh I can so relate - I'm sure we all can! It's almost become natural to me now to swing from self-belief to utter misery and self-doubt (writerly bipolar syndrome!).

I had it particularly bad last year when I'd finished the first drafts and was doing my edits. I felt like, no matter how hard I worked, it would never be as good as it should be in my head. But you know what? I don't think anything I ever write ever will be and I think that's healthy.

When you're a complete newbie writer you'll write a story and think "this is brilliant" (or at least I used to) but then you learn more - about what makes other stories and novels work and you study 'how to' books and read articles and you start to see your work more objectively. And then the doubt sets in. But you WILL come out the other side.

Being so close to your book and viewing it so closely, looking for errors, skews your perception. It's like looking at your skin under a magnifying glass and just seeing pimples, blackheads and broken veins. You don't see your whole face - just the flaws.

You know what helps me get through the funk? Go a buy (or borrow) a book that's a huge commercial success but, in your view, terribly written/executed. It'll make you see your own work in a much more positive light. Alternatively put your work to one side for a bit (absence makes the heart grow fonder) and write something else - a short story, a couple of limericks, anything to distract your brain - then come back to your book. You WILL fall in love with it again. I guarantee it.

Debs said...

Sigh, I know exactly how you feel. I sometimes read work that I've produced and wonder how I ever thought it remotely good enough to send anywhere.

Then again, I know I love writing (and the plotting, etc that Capt Black mentioned) and so can't imagine not continuing to chase the dream.

Some days are just glum days. I quite like the word, glum. Pretty much sums me up today in fact.

Calistro said...

p.s. I will be nearly 36 when my first novel gets published and I wrote my first 'book' when I was 8. If you really, really want this you'll chase it for as long as it takes. Don't give up.

NoviceNovelist said...

Juliette, This is my survival list for the writerly blues:
1. Go to the gym and work out so vigorouly that I shape myself out of the doldrums.
2. On the way home buy a HUGE bar of choclate
3. Get home, eat all the choclate whilst rereading a favourite book
4. Visit my fav writerly blogs
5. Put bum on seat and DON'T THINK - just write!!

Hang in there Juliette and remember that 'this too will come to pass.'

Helen said...

I too am feeling very similar. I have so little time at the moment and writing the novel always seems to get pushed to one side. And I'm still sifting through my research so no actual words are being written.

But the sun is out, we've just been to feed the ducks so hopefully the mood will shift soon!

Clare Sudders said...

Well Juliette, if it's any consolation I too am having a blah day. My son an I have been taking it in turns to be ill for weeks now and completely ruined my lovely plans to be a full time writer since January and get my latest book finished by mid March. Also my agent keeps forwarding rejections. They're all of the "this book is great but..." variety. I've had about a million of them. At least. :)

I could list other woes too, but I seem to have got myself all upside down as this is supposed to be a post about how we lift ourselves from the doldrums.

Sometimes it helps to acknoweldge to mnyself that these things come in cycles, and maybe I'm just having a shit day. Sometimes it helps to give myself a kick up the arse and remind myself that whining got me noweher and if I only go ahead and write, I'll feel better. It definitely helps to remind myself that the quality doesn't matter, that it's better to write dross (which can then be edited into shape) than nothing at all. And of course when I write in that don't-care-about-the-quality way, the irony is that what comes out is generally quite good.

Something which definitely helps, but which (I think) is hard to manufacture, is positive feedback. My good news this week is that a national newspaper have asked me to submit a piece to them, based on something I wrote on my blog. Nothing is written in stone yet and I'm not convinced it won't all fall through, but on a day which I'd spent most of in floods of tears, it massively lifted my mood. I know you're supposed to manufacture this kind of thing by keeping a file full of positive feedback, but I've never found that worked much for me - these things seem to have a shelf life. They lift you when they're current, but once they've gone past they're old news. Sorry, that's not very helpful. I guess the answer is to keep submitting, over and over, to as many people as possible, cos the more you submit (to magazines, competitions etc as well as publishers and agents), the more chance you get of a positive response. The newspaper thing was as the result of me dashing off a two-line email to the editor on a whim. It wasn't a detailed proposal at all, just along the lines of "Here's a link to something I wrote on my blog - how about I edit into a piece for your newspaper?" to which they responded "Yes, nice idea, nice blog piece - do us 1500 words and if we like it we'll have it." (paraphrased).

That was only two days ago though and I'm already in the doldrums again, but that's more to do with being tied to a crying baby all day every day.

Good luck with it all - at least you know you're not alone. And have some {{{HUGS}}} for good measure.

Clare Sudders said...

Captain Black, I just wanted to say thank you for sticking up for me in my comments box the other day. You might notice I've now deleted the post in question, but it was one of the things that has depressed me this week, and your comment was a ray of light. I would email you but I can't seem to access your profile.

Annieye said...

Today must be a universal Wretched Writers' Day. I feel much the same. Can't settle to anything and can't write either. Bloomin' eck - you're only young. Just keep at it. My biggest regret is giving up trying to get published when I was 28. I've only just come out of the closet again in the last 18 months or so and I'm now in my fifties. I didn't stop writing though - I just did it in secret! Please don't do as I did. Keep going and be true to yourself.

liz fenwick said...

I think everyone has said it. I allow myself to write loads of crap and allow myself not to write some times. hang in there!


K.Imaginelli said...

hope you're feeling a little better Juliette M. journaling helps me & getting out of the house and doing some bookstore browsing or going to see a movie.

it also helps me to remember that all those books on the bookstore shelves went through the stage that you're experiencing at the moment.

if you haven't seen it already, you might like to take a look at elizabeth gilbert's TED lecture on genius. i haven't read eat, pray, love but i really like how she described the creative process.

KeVin K. said...

Everyone's already said it: Write. Free write. Write crap. Write another project. Write.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Can I add, being obstinate helps (that's the polite version). I was in my mid-forties before I got my first book published and it had been rejected by more than 100 publishers before it got into print. I bet you £20 (in front of all these witnesses) you get there long before either of those figures come up.

KAREN said...

Well I'm sure I've said it before, but taking my dog for a long walk always seems to do the trick. Even if I start out not thinking about non-writing related angst, somehow when I get back I'm more 'in the mood' to get on with something.

So that's the answer. Get a dog :o)) Seriously, I hope you feel less blah now.

KAREN said...

...ahem. That should be 'not thinking about writing-related angst.' Obviously ...

sheepish said...

Oh dear I just wrote the most erudite comment ever and Blogger ate it and spat it out!!!!!
As I said before I put all this down to it being FEBRUARY, I hate this month and the effect it has on my morale.
Luckily today the weather has been glorious and it has lifted my mood if not my ability to write coherently.
So just hang in there and believe me 30 is not old!!!!!

Lane said...

Your mum has some good sayings:-)

Well I think it's all been said already. Just keep at it. The alternative is not writing and that's worse.

And you're only 30. I now feel officially old I but take comfort in the fact Mary Wesley wasn't published (her adult novels) until she was 71.

And I would never advocate licking a dog, but for the black eyed one, I make an exception:-)

Lane said...

I do of course mean kicking a dog. 'Licking' would just be wrong:-)

KayJay said...

Everyone has said it, it's all part of the wonderful curse of being writerly, you're definitely NOT old at 30, and it's February. Totally.


Kate.Kingsley said...

Well, following a burst of 'get yourself out there' submission frenzy towards the end of last year I have started 2009 with a steady stream of rejections! However I generally find that reminding myself how tedious I find the mortgage-paying day job make me feel much better about being a (as yet unsuccesful) writer. It's the lesse of two evils, I suppose :-)

JJ said...

I'm late; weekend away, but I wanted to pop in and send you big hugs. I cope very badly when down in the doldrums but the thought of not writing makes me much sadder, so I pick myself up and dust myself ... well you get the picture.

Big hugs anyway.

Un Peu Loufoque said...

Late too sorry, no exciting excuse like weekend away jsut dull domestic chores and a fit of " waht on earth am I dong wiht my lief" speaking as someone much older than you beleive me 30 is not even approachign old and we all get days like that.No matter hwo many peopel tell me I can write I alwasy think thy are beign "nice" (yuck) and that secretly I am very crap at it all adn shoudl stick to somewthing else like possibly hoovering ( at which I am also not good!) Chin up onwards and upwards etc I am 50 and still not published not sure if that gives you hope or jsut makes you want to throw in the towel?