Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The view from the bottom

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.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Goldenford Publishers

18 comments:

Nik's Blog said...

Positive vibes winging their way to you, Anne. So sorry to hear you're fed up. And I'd be massively disappointed if you left ww; I can see what you mean but, you know, um, I'm there and I'd be lonely without you. ;)

Nik X

Jilly said...

Keep going Anne - things do get better as you get older. I find I've got less bothered about what other people think - always an advantage! I think you're wise to try and slow down a bit if you feel overstretched. I find if I start feeling stressed I'm trying to do too much. Keep writing though - that's your outlet if you think about it. Positive vibes on their way from me too. Hugs XX

Anne Brooke said...

Thanks, Nik. Much appreciated. But don't worry - I'll still be here - if possibly not there!

Hugs

A
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Anne Brooke said...

Thanks also, Jilly - sorry, you must have been commenting even as I was answering Nik, and slipped in beforehand somehow. Wise words as ever - I probably am trying to do too much. And positive vibes are much appreciated - thanks again.

A
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Susan said...

Hi Anne, so sorry to hear you are feeling so low. The forties are certainly strange years (I feel young in my mind but at the same time acknowledge that there's another 18 years to pay on the mortgage and dreams of leisure and time & money to travel are far away). On the plus side who'd want to be back out there in the scary 'dating' world - there is a lot to be said for having found a trusty man who makes you happy.

Re. the writing; maybe you should plan a month of going cold turkey and see how you feel - if you really crave and miss it, you'll know it's in your blood and you need to carry on. You seem to have been getting lots of positive comments lately from readers so you should take lots of heart from that I think. (I'm sorry I'm so slow in reading your latest, I'm a book a month girl at the moment - I'm still on Kate Atkinson!)

Heard about the vitamin thing too -god I'd wish they'd make their minds up - last week all cured meats were deemed carcinogenic!

Put your feet up tonight, get the wine and chocs out and get K to give you a food massage - you deserve it.

Big hug
Sue
X

Anne Brooke said...

Thanks, Sue - yes I see what you mean! Like the idea of leaving the writing thing for a while and see how it goes. Massage is good too!

And I loved that Atkinson novel - it's amazing. I must get the one that comes first - can't remember the title right now.

Hugs galore

A
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Jackie Luben said...

Was it Behind the Scenes in the Museum? Described as a truly post-modern novel by someone or other.

Sorry that you're so low, Anne, and take note of all the advice that people are giving you. Plus, maybe you need extra sleep. You seem to get an awful lot done in any one day, and I suspect you burn the candle at both ends in order to do it. Sleep is very important - I always get 8 hours if I can.

But be philosophical about the days when you don't get praise for your work. There are so many good days - you can't win 'em all.

Anne Brooke said...

Thanks for the good wishes - and good advice! - Jackie. I really must get early nights!!

And no the Museum one was awful - I hated it. It's her witty crime series, the 2nd one of which I read recently and loved. I just can't remember the name of the first!

A
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Cathy said...

Case Histories is the first book...I loved it!

Sorry that you are feeling down...it's probably not much consolation to know that most people seem to go through these midlife crises and re-evaluations, but it is true. You've already had lots of good advice above.

Re WW...don't leave, you can always lurk (I do) but it's still a great source of info and support. Just remember that those finding success right now must be a tiny proportion of the total members.

Hugs
Cx

Anne Brooke said...

That's it! Case Histories. Thank you, Cathy. I must add it to my list of books to buy. Then I can catch up with what happened before the one I've just read.

Mid-life re-evaluation. Like the sound of that. It makes sense too. And I will lurk in the shadows of WW for a while and see if it's any better.

Hugs to you

A
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Jackie Luben said...

There is something about being the wrong side of the 'mid-life crisis' that I found. Instead of thinking of 'what am I going to do with the rest of my life', you start (or at least I did) thinking, what am I going to do with the next few months? There are always days to look forward to, and I like your policy of having three good things about 'today', whichever day that is, even though I don't do it myself. Put some good things on the calendar and start looking forward to them.

Anne Brooke said...

Now that's true. I like the few months idea. I must remember the short-term as well as the long-term, dammit.

Hugs, Jackie

A
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ireneintheworld said...

don't stop writing anne, that's not what's getting you down; it's the publishing...so stop sending work out for a while and settle into just writing for yourself. sending huge prayers up to the universe for you. xx

Anne Brooke said...

You're right, Irene - I must divide these things out and not get myself in quite such a mess - famous last words, eh!

Hugs & love to you, big-time

A
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Marla D said...

You sound like you need a night out with me :D !
Unfortunatley I'm not over your way until the summer holidays..
You can't leave WW! I'm neither up & coming or competitive..you ARE published, which IS more than most can say..like Irene says..up the publishers..get back to enjoying the art of writing..competing with yourself & your own achievements is a hollow old road..and you don't need to, you've done it..all else is a pleasurable bonus! :)
I haven't forgotten the soaps..they just haven't come in yet..
Have you ever tried painting your toenails bright red and walking up your local High Street barefoot? It lifts that weight ( and the corners of your mouth ) like you could never imagine..go on, I dare you :D x

Anne Brooke said...

You're right, I know it, Marla! Thank you for the reminder - much appreciated. And I definitely like the toenail idea - it's exactly what my mother would have done in her younger days. But will I ever have the courage in Godalming???

!!!

Hugs to you

A
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Marla D said...

It's not cheating if you wear long baggy-bottomed trousers to hide them..YOU still know :) x

Anne Brooke said...

Tee hee! That's a cunning plan indeed ...

:))

A
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