Lordy but it’s dark down here. Not sure why it’s happened now – maybe it’s just tiredness – but goodness me I feel low. To be honest, I’ve been pretty shaky all week, though I have been bravely fighting off the feeling by being super-positive and rather on the hyper side of hyper-jolly. And how exhausting that is too! Maybe I should up my Vitamin B pills to two a day instead of one? Hmm, that might work. Or perhaps more oestrogen gel is called for? Who can say? I realised things had become pretty bad this morning whilst driving into work – I was listening to the news which told us that vitamins might now be a Bad Thing as they might actually shorten life, and caught myself thinking well, in that case it’s not all bad news then. Hell, I may not particularly relish another 40 years of feeling low and wondering what the hell it’s all about, Alfie, but even I know that thinking like that and kind of meaning it isn’t terribly healthy. Sigh.
Talking of health, I’m helping out with the Health Awareness Fayre today (what an irony), so I have to put on my bright, professional and jolly (oh God, that word again!!) hat. Thank goodness I come from a long line of drama queens (on the male side) who could probably act for Britain, should the need arise. Roll on home time, eh.
In between all that, I am generally drooping around looking like Lydia Languish on a slow day and contemplating the wonderment of yet more of my fellow-writers succeeding in their endeavours. Is there a glut on, Carruthers? Have I missed the boat marked This Way for Success yet again, dammit?? Anyway, marvellous news for you all, and very well deserved indeed, but I remain utterly puzzled as to how people do it. Really, it takes me back to my teenage years when everyone else I knew (well, most people anyway – I was never in with the in-crowd, if I’d even known what the hell the in-crowd looked like) were getting boyfriends like it was easy (it isn’t), whereas I seemed to live most of my teens and early twenties in a bubble marked Not This Way, Chaps –if You Value Your Sanity. Thank God Lord H wasn’t wearing his glasses when he met me. I would have been a complete recluse otherwise. He must have missed the bubble. That same bubble which I suspect is still hanging round my neck and scaring off publishers now.
And I’m coming to some sort of realisation that it might always be like this. Not only that but, much like trying to fit into a church situation, attempting to play the commercial publishing game, at least in the UK, is not making me any happier. And I was a bit of a Marvin the Paranoid Android to start with! I’m wondering if it would be better for me if I eased down on the gas a little. As it were. It’s interesting that in some ways I’ve already started to do that, in small but significant decisions taken. I gave up my membership of the Society of Authors about eighteen months ago now. Possibly longer, I forget. I’m not resubscribing to the Poetry Society, I’m only going to Guildford Writers in general once a month rather than every fortnight, and I’m seriously considering giving up my membership of Writewords when it’s due for renewal in August. The latter partly as I think I’m becoming something of an irritant to them too, and Writewords itself (whilst being a very worthy site of course) is moving more towards being an organisation for commercially successful or up-and-coming writers, rather than a place where we’re all learning together; so the ethos has changed and, for me, it’s become more uncomfortable and way, way too competitive. Really, all these decisions were taken or are being taken as most of the organisations involved were, or are, beginning to cause me more pain than pleasure. And I don’t think that’s what writing should be about. Recently, I’ve also stopped submitting poems to magazines on a regular basis, and I don’t enter as many competitions as I used to. Frankly, I can’t get the energy up to do so, and neither can I see what the pay-off is. And I’m seriously fed-up – no, debilitated is more the word – by rejection. It’s not nice. It hits me in the gut every time it happens (which, as you know, is quite often!) and these days takes so much longer to recover from. Yes, I know that as writers we’re supposed to take rejection in our stride and continue “onwards and upwards” like mad elephants on the rampage – and I used to do that – but hell it’s not that easy. I wish to God it were, but it’s not.
On the plus side, I’m still writing the novel, and I’d like to finish it too. Though I’m unsure whether it’s one I’ll give to the agent or not, to be honest. We’ll see. I’ve done a couple of short stories recently, which has been a surprise. Although the reaction to that development has been mixed, to say the least. I might write another one, I might not. I can’t tell right now. And I’m doing the occasional poem, though even I feel it’s a bit up and down in that department. I do like writing and most reader reaction has been touchingly enthusiastic, but it’s the other stuff, the expectations, the failures and all that jazz, which take away the enjoyment of it.
So really, I can’t say that I’m hugely enjoying being in my forties, even though there have been very nice and good things which have happened in the last four years – though I gather from a recent newspaper article that this is par for the course. Nobody likes being in their forties. God, but they’re bloody right! I think I had a lot more hope in my thirties; and even though I personally feel I’m a better writer now, I have a lot less hope. Or perhaps more rather painful realism. I’m certainly doing a damn sight more thinking about what the next forty years will be like for sure, depending of course on the effect of those pesky life-threatening vitamins. Ah well.
Today’s nice things, um, arrgh …
1. Having a yoghurt bar at lunch
2. Not having to talk to many people this morning, as they’re all at meetings
3. An evening in.