Back from the brink of despair

despair - steve boseleyIt feels like forever that I’ve been away from writing and the blogging community in general. My last post was December last year. That’s like three whole months. I have to tell you, it feels like a lifetime.

Although I don’t have to, I feel the need to explain my extended absence. Perhaps you’ll be able to relate to some of it.

It started back in November, with NaNoWriMo. I’d been writing short stories for a fair while, and if I’m honest, I was thoroughly enjoying it, but at the back of my mind was always the novel. As an author, I’m told that that is what I should be aspiring to. I had won NaNo the previous year, but my 50k words had been towards a collection of short stories that would go on to become my first book, A Sinister Six. Even now when I read the stories in that book, I can nod my head and think that’s actually not too bad, and trust me, that’s a big deal for me.

But still the spectre of the novel kept raising its head, and so in the run up to last November, I purchased Scrivener (A novelist’s necessity apparently), got my notebook out and began planning my novel. Now before this, I had written 20k words towards what I thought would be my first novel, but when I got the new software and some new ideas, I shifted my focus to the new novel.

I worked hard over that period, and made a conscious decision to let my online interactions lapse. My blog updates dropped off, I stopped Tweeting and my Facebook groups dropped off the radar. I hit the 50k mark again but began to feel that what I was writing was not ‘tight’ enough. My original idea suddenly seemed to lend itself to a three-book trilogy, as seemed to be the style for similar books in the genre (dystopian), so I set about trying to pad it out into three books, which is where I think everything started to fall apart: Huge chunks of what I was writing began to feel like padding – unnecessary filler to hit my word targets. The more I tried to rectify this, the worse it looked, and the worse it looked, the worse I felt. Then, not surprisingly, the worse I felt, the worse my writing looked, and so on.

There came a day in February, that I decided I was just wasting my time and making myself miserable every time I sat and looked at – or even thought about – this book. Which is when I just stopped. I moved away from the keyboard and away from writing, and all the people that have been so supportive of my journey thus far, and for that, I’m sorry.

anxiety - steve boseley

I sat down at the keyboard for the first time again this week. On that first day, I just made a couple of small changes to my website. It felt close to writing without actually being writing. But more importantly, it felt good. On the next day, I wrote a newsletter update for my email followers (that’s another post all by itself!). It was only brief, but it had pictures, links and text and, like the previous day, it felt closer to writing without actually being writing. I didn’t send the newsletter, I just wrote it. I also said hello on one of my Facebook groups and began reading a few posts on other people’s blogs. On my third day (today), I decided I would expand the brief newsletter piece I had written into something that would explain where I’ve been. I had no intentions of doing anything with it, it was simply something to write. Once I started, my brief ‘I’ve been under the weather’ update, became what you are reading here, with me sharing more than I thought I would be comfortable sharing: It’s the story of me failing.

That realisation knocked me back. It knocked me hard. I can’t pretend to be an amazing author. A lot of the people I have (and still) follow are posting updates about what they have written and how well things are going for their latest work in progress. They are doing well, and some of their work that I’ve read, is really good. But I have to say that I have found that to be so demotivating, kind of a ‘I’ll never be that good’ feeling. And so began my self-imposed exile.

But I’ve had a change of heart and mind that has led me to begin this fight back. And these are the decisions I’ve reached:

  • I need to write more for myself, and not worry if anyone is reading any of it.
  • I need to write what makes me smile. If it feels like a chore, then I need to do something else.
  • I need to concern myself less with what people think about my writing and me.
  • I need to blog about the things that speak to me, and not necessarily about writing (plus see the above point).
  • Be happy with the fact that some people will like that approach, and some won’t. Those that won’t will unsubscribe, but that’s okay, because I’m writing for me.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and make it this far down the page. I hope to cross paths with some of you in the future and will be sure to drop by your blog to say hello. Leave your blog details in the comments section, and I’ll see you there!

I don’t want to end on a downer, so here is what I’ve been paying attention to in the last 3 months:

What am I reading?

  • This month, I’ve been re-reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower It’s a sprawling epic that tells the story of the last gunslinger as he pursues the enigmatic Man in Black on his route to the Dark Tower – the nexus of all universes. I’m currently on book 4, Wizard and Glass. I can’t speak highly enough about this series. Give it a chance. Your life will be better for it!
  • I’ve also read Dan Simmons’ Hyperion. In a similar vein to the Dark Tower, this chronicles the journeys of seven pilgrims as they travel to the fabled Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion, which travel backwards through time. If you like the Tower, you’ll love Hyperion.
  • I’ve also started in on the complete collection of HP Lovecraft. Some I’ve read before. Some of them are better than others, but all are worth a read.

What am I watching?

Other than the Winter Olympics?

  • I’ve just binge-watched my way through 4 seasons of Inside No. 9, a modern Tales of the Unexpected, with more than a twist of horror.
  • I’ve just watched the most recent Walking Dead No spoilers, but I have really enjoyed this series, even though the zombies have started to take a back seat to the action.
  • I’ve just started in on League of Gentlemen. Never seen it before, but it is dark and crazy!

What am I listening to?

A lot of podcasts, mainly.

  • Improvised Star Trek. Exactly what it sounds like. A bunch of improv comedians doing episodes of Star Trek. It is hillarious.
  • King Falls AM. Two men host a late night phone in radio show in the strange and supernatural town of King Falls. Well acted and produced. The most recent episode made me shout at my iPod.
  • Mission to Zyxx. More improv scifi humour about a group of interstellar ambassadors as they try (and mostly fail) to recruit planets to the Federated Alliance.
  • Welcome to Nightvale. I’m quite a way behind on this dark and surreal tale, but it’s definitely worth catching up on.

Let me know if you’ve listened to any of these, but also let me know what else I should be listening to in the comments.


19 thoughts on “Back from the brink of despair

  1. Nice to see you back, Steve. I think you are right to write for you… if it isn’t speaking to you, put it down. It will still be there later. There will always be readers who love your work and others who hate it…no matter what you writeor how good it is. I don’t like Stephen King’s books… but I am in the minority, I know. I still acknowledge his expertise and ability to craft a good tale…just not my style. I don’t like romance either… but there are some wonderful writers in the genre. I think that the best way to write a book you will be happy with is to write the book you want to read… even if it breaks all the genre and wordcount sterotypes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think we’ve all been here at one time or another. I’ve not done much at all for months – I’m just getting back into writing a novel after being unable to think of a suitable plot for ages. Sometimes it’s best to take a step back and do something else for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Let me just say that there has never been a really (your word) good writer who hasn’t gone through the same angst as you. The important thing is the really (your word) good writer has kept writing no matter what. If you continue to care about others as it relates to your wring you are destined to fail. (It is that simple) Forget resolutions just write for yourself. The previous message has been brought to you by one who feels your pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I go through this at times too, Steve. I’m having fun brainstorming at the moment but when I write, I have a hard time getting over 45k in the first draft. I have to continue to go back through and hope to reach the desired count and it not to be just filler as you’ve said. It’s funny because my first four books were WAY over what they should’ve been. Hugs, hope things improve for you!

    Liked by 1 person

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