Hello there my faithful followers and readers. I hope you’re all well and that you’re each having a pleasant Easter.
Have you ever had a head of steam? Have you ever been so enthusiastic about something that it becomes all you think about and all you wish to put any effort into? I have. That’s the sole reason I’ve been posting so much over the last few months. I’ve been enjoying writing so much that the ideas have been rolling out nonstop, en masse.
Then the steam dissipates. Now what you’re left with is a benchmark that you’ve set for yourself. You do alright at keeping up with the benchmark for a while. Then eventually it just becomes a bit too much. Your work gets sloppy as you struggle to meet the demand you’ve put on yourself. Nonetheless, you persist. You think that you can basically write your way out of the funk in the same way a swimmer swims through a stitch.
The problem is that you can’t. Once you lose that spark where writing is concerned then there’s no way of it returning to you unless you do one thing; that one thing you really don’t want to do. ALL AHEAD STOP! It’s tough to accept that what you need to do is drop it for a while when it’s the thing you yearn to do the most.
Ordinarily I’d have continued to fly against the wind and press on regardless in the hope that nobody notices I’m really struggling. I thought I was doing a decent job until Thursday last week (13th April) when two things happened.
The first was unrelated to my blog. However, it did hit home in an extremely personal way. I checked Amazon to see if I’d had any reviews on Dead End (available for £0.99 there; still free on smashwords.com). I saw that I had two. The second was a five star review with some lovely comments about how you really live the protagonist’s sensations and feelings. The first review was anything but positive. It was given one star and the comment essentially said that the story made no sense. In some ways the comment gave me a sense of solace because it didn’t say anything about my writing style being poor. What the comment read to me wasn’t “the story made no sense”, rather “I didn’t understand the story”. In which case I think that’s more to do with the reader as nobody who read it here on WordPress complained that it made no sense.
The problem is that that one star review will stick. People will see that somebody gave it one star and they’ll be put off as opposed to reading the comment and perhaps deducing “well maybe you’re just a bit stupid, Mr/Mrs Reviewer”. The star rating is there for people to make snap decisions on. If they see it’s a low rating then they won’t touch it. So that set my mood in the wrong direction straightaway.
People have disagreed with points I’ve made in previous posts. That I fully expect. Nobody has ever said, though, that my writing itself pretty much sucked (those weren’t the words used, though the implication was all too clear).
The alarm bells were already ringing because of that one star review. The negative critique of my Find Me a Find chapter set off a full on air raid siren! It cut deep. However, it was a necessary cut. The kind of cut a surgeon needs to make to remove something nasty from within. They were right. Chapter Fifteen wasn’t a good one. It wasn’t well written. It wasn’t well edited. I saw the negative feedback as what it was — helpful.
It helped me finally realise what has been smacking me in the face the past few weeks. I’m giving myself too much to do. I’m putting myself under too much pressure. My writing is starting to suffer as a result. There’s only so much midnight oil one can burn before the lantern runs dry. Because of all the writing I’m not even getting to properly keep up with the blog posts of others. I feel so bad when people are consistent in reading my stuff and I’m not returning the favour.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a hiatus. I need to drop writing for my blog on its head for a while. I won’t stop writing. That would be akin to cutting my metaphorical jugular. I’d bleed out and die. I’ll keep my hand in albeit in a much more relaxed fashion and get my mojo back along the way. I’ve got some English grammar work to catch up on, Revenge on the Spanish Main needs editing, Find Me a Find is still some way off its conclusion so there are plenty of things to do. It’s just that I can do them at a more leisurely pace and without a posting deadline of every other day looming over me.
It also means I can sort out my employment situation which is causing me undue stress, catch up on reading some of the posts of others, and not spend half the day ignoring those around me while I work feverishly to meet the infernal deadlines I set myself.
If you hadn’t already picked up on the not so subtle undertones then this will be an extended leave of absence. I’m thinking around a month, perhaps more. I don’t want to put an exact date on when I‘ll return. Basically it’ll be when I’m ready. I’ve got a lot that needs doing and I don’t want to burden myself with a timeframe.
When I return (and I will, don’t you worry) I’ll revert to posting every three days like I used to, if that. It was much easier to manage that way. With any luck there’ll be a flood of new ideas to run with too.
I haven’t lost my love for writing. That would be impossible. I can guarantee that I love it more than most people reading this now. Trust me, I’ll fight you over it! Seriously though, this isn’t me losing my desire. I’ll use an analogy. You know when you love a person intensely and you want to spend every waking moment with them? Then somewhere down the line their constant presence becomes a bit overbearing and you need some space. You still love them like crazy; you just need to get away from them for a little while for some breathing space. That’s kind of it, except I’m not getting away from writing. I’m getting away from writing for my blog, or at least pressure-writing for my blog.
This will be necessary if I’m to get back to the level of quality I feel I should be achieving every time. I don’t do negative critique well. I stew over it and allow it to fill me with self-doubt. I lay awake on Thursday night wondering if I’m not just being really stupid in thinking I could ever get published; ruminating over whether I am actually any good or if people are simply being nice. It’s not a good place to be in.
I was going to take a break anyway, although I was waiting until I’d finished Find Me a Find before I did. All I’m doing is bringing it forward. I may still post the occasional Find Me a Find chapter during the hiatus as they’re prewritten and I edit them before posting; however, that will be at my discretion and likely totally unannounced.
I want to thank everybody who has supported me so far. It’s thanks to you mainly that I’ve been as prolific as I have. You’ve given me the confidence to push myself to (and beyond) my limits. It’s now time to drop back from that limit and get with the ideal ‘quality over quantity’. It’s something I’m a firm believer in and what I shall now be sticking stringently to. I won’t apologise for leaving you all for a while as you’ll all see why it was so necessary for me to do so when I return.
Hopefully I’ll be seeing you all on your own blog posts soon as I vie to catch up. I look forward to seeing what you’ve all got for me. They say you should part on a song so here it is…