I have given up writing.
Just writing those words is fear inspiring. It’s like announcing I have decided to cut off my legs. On a whim. For no reason at all. Hell, legs nothing; like I’m giving up my personality to become a ghost. A non-person.
I have not rushed to share this news on here (I gave up about two months ago), wanting to be sure it was not some fit of pique, a bout of depression, a withholding due to injured pride. But it’s not. I still have no desire to write. I feel no overwhelming rush to dash back into the fold. I am out in the cold and soldiering grimly on, as directionless as a rudderless boat, but decidedly more banal and less romantic.
It has not felt the way I expected. There have been no tears, but no joy either. My expected feelings of loss or liberation failed to materialise, although I suspect that’s because I am doing this piecemeal. By necessity.
Do you know the experience of deciding to do something that isn’t possible in one stroke? Say, moving house. You can say the words, ‘I’ve decided to move house’, but it takes a while to do, and it involves many stages, some of them with stages all unto themselves. But the key to long haul decisions is there is always a point where you actually decide, where you let go of the old and climb onto the new. Well, that’s where I am, which is why I suspect the expected feelings have been muted and uncertain. I haven’t yet tilted into the full-time commitment of being a quitter.
Books on finding your calling, doing what you love so the money will follow, following your passion and finding your North star, are always big on trusting your gut, reading your feelings. If you decide to do something and you feel a sinking feeling, it must be wrong, do something else. Well, I can tell you, in the real world, these just don’t work. You may feel a thrill of excitement at the idea of being a professional hanglider, but your heart sinks when you think of telling your wife and kids, or of finding the money for a spanky new hanglider. So, is your heart telling you hangliding is the way to go, or are your doubts proving the idea is a disaster waiting to happen?
Sometimes the cleft stick is right up your arse.
I have been writing for a long time, just short of 30 years. I have virtually nothing to show for it. Four books in print (five if you count Delaney, which I don’t). But no career, no fame, no reputation and no money. It’s been a long, long time since I last enjoyed it, in an abstract sense, although I can still enjoy the act of writing when I’m actually doing it. As a concept though, no. Just the thought makes me feel tired and defeated. I am the Vincent van Gogh of writing, but I am embracing quitting rather than absinthe and ear-lopping.
But there is more to my dissatisfaction than sheer materialism, or an absence of professional (or public) regard. I have never felt like a ‘writer’, for example. By which I mean I have no idea how to go onto a web forum or into a writer’s group and mingle. I have nothing in common with other writers, and can, indeed, only find points of reference between me and – usually – dead geniuses. Does this mean I am a genius then rather than ‘a writer’? Well, normally I would say yes, because I like to keep up my reputation as a brittle and annoying narcissist, but this time, for the sake of truth and beauty, I will say, does it matter?
If being a genius is as relevant to publication as being Swiss, who cares? How does it, or would it, help me to know I was a genius? Can I put it on letter headings? Sell it on eBay? Demand attention from your dog? Of what practical use is it in a writing career to be a genius? Let’s stick to the real world.
I have no peers. And I’m far too old for a mentor. I can’t use my forum friends and writing buddies to get a step up the ladder, find contacts, feel loved. I’m assuming feeling loved is part of this, otherwise it makes no sense. I don’t feel loved when I’m with other writers, just irritated by their stupidity, slug-like devotion to genre and their endless rounds of amateurish back-patting. Instead of feeling loved I feel alienated and freakish, a constant outsider toiling up the mountain of publication like the world’s smallest ant rolling the biggest ball of dung.
DANNY may be a lot of things, but it isn’t dung. I need to quit, before I start thinking of it that way. I don’t want to hate it as much as everyone else does.
Constantly inserting yourself into a hole that you don’t fit is bound to lead to literary cystitis eventually, where you avoid the pain of intercourse because engaging no longer feels pleasurable. In fact, you wonder how anyone ever wants to do it in the first place. Meet my life.
What this means, practically, to you, is I will no longer be publishing the remaining volumes of DANNY, at least for now. In 2012 I will look at my situation again and see how I feel. Maybe time will have soothed my pains, and brightened my spirits – or at least revived my enthusiasm – or maybe I will have moved on entirely and left it – hoorah! – well behind, like the ghost of Christmas past. Only time will tell.
I will no longer be publishing Delaney on here, but I am still uncertain as to whether to start running DANNY Volume 1. At the moment it seems pointless, counter-productive, and I really don’t want to do it. I know it will ruin my hard-earned blog audience – and, peculiarly, and sadly, that’s the thing that frightens me most – but you can’t quit by halves, you know. I’ve tried.
But I may change my mind; one quit at a time. I’m feeling my way here. If you care enough, you can buy Delaney to see how it ‘ends’. It will stay in print with the rest of my work. Other than the original Volume 1, which I am intending to withdraw/remainder, I have no intentions of removing any of my work from publication.
I did actually try, and did start, a new novel. When I finished work on Delaney, I swore that was my last project for Poison Pixie, and I was firmly determined to get in on some mainstream action; enough of doing what you love. But I found it wouldn’t come. Well, it would, but it was like I’d wound the clock back to 1984: I was manufacturing writing; I wasn’t writing. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s what 99% of writers do, but I don’t enjoy it. I’ve tasted the intoxicating joy of writing something that matters and I’m not going back to that meagre regurgitation known as storytelling. There are so many people who do that and love it with a passion. The world doesn’t need my half-hearted efforts at vampire detectives who save the world.
I don’t know what, if anything, will be running on this blog, so I can’t reassure you. Max will probably still use it for his books and so forth, and it will still be used for Poison Pixie news, but after that I can’t say for certain. Feel free to call back or not as you see fit. It will remain here because, like I say, I’m feeling my way here. I may take a mad turn and become a full-time blogger. But I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.
I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, from when I first thought of a ‘serious’ career (i.e. one that didn’t involve dancing or travelling the world), but I’ve never been certain whether I ever actually picked it. I always thought I had. After all, I had fought against academia and law to get it, sacrificed many things for it, wasted a horrendous amount of time learning it, perfecting it, and worrying about it. But maybe it was always my mother’s ambition, not mine. Well, the time has come to find out who I really am without it. Hey, maybe there’s no-one there. That would be the final irony, a writer of fiction who was a fiction herself.
Wish me luck………..
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