Wednesday, December 23, 2015
It's time to go.
On 20 November 2015, I decided that I would never write again.
I'd just had the first 3,000 words of my manuscript savaged by the participants of a Novel Writing Masterclass and -- in the midst of the savaging -- been informed my the facilitator that he'd been discussing my work with the publisher who'd been reading it, and her assessment was that it was "severely lacking".
I cried all the way home on the train. I cried to my family. I crawled into bed early and cried some more while I played the events of the afternoon over and over in my head in some kind of masochistic loop.
The worst thing of all (even worse than discovering that my manuscript was badly constructed, unevenly written and highly inappropriate for my target audience) was that I'd previously confided to the group how much I'd loved writing this novel and how proud I'd been of the end result... and how much more vulnerable that made me feel than if I'd had doubts or still felt it needed a lot of work.
I cringed to the core of the earth and cried until I could hardly breathe.
Clearly I was not cut out for this writing life. I never wanted to write. Anything. Ever. Again.
When the official rejection email arrived from the publisher a few days later, I hardly felt a ripple of emotion.
I'll spare you the rest but suffice to say, this all happened during one of the busiest weeks of the year. I had a major commitment at my daughter's school's massive end-of-year event. I was putting the finishing touches on Reverb. I was preparing for my husband's birthday and my sister's. And then there was Christmas.
I was lucky: I had incredible support. My husband, parents, friends and therapist all rallied to the cause with empathy, pep talks and space to be angry. I came through, stronger and wiser and much more discerning. I even returned for the rest of the Masterclass.
And, in the end, I finally saw the truth: I'd been so attached to writing my novel for a particular age group, spurred by the hope that it would be picked up by a particular publisher, that I had been doing something of a disservice to the story.
With all of those expectations gone, I suddenly felt free.
So, I am going to leave it for a bit. I suspect what I have written is actually a novel for adults. I wonder if I was afraid of writing this particular story this particular way. It feels like time to step up to the task.
It also feels like time to let go of all my writing commitments. Including this blog.
I'm sure you've noticed, I have been dragging my heels a little this year. This is partly a time thing. Most evenings, by the time I have a moment to myself, I just want to collapse into bed.
But also: after five years, the reasons I started a blog no longer compel me. I don't feel quite so drawn to engage in a particular conversation or process my experiences in the same way. I also note the urge to reserve my creative energy -- in limited supply while my bambini are so young -- for other things.
This space has been so important to me and I'll always be grateful that I made it, not least for the incredible people it brought into my orbit. I'm so proud of what we've all built together, particularly the reflective writing challenges April Moon, August Moon and Reverb. I do feel a little wistful and sad to let them go.
But it feels like the right time to move on.
I want to know what it's like to write when I'm not doing it because I think I should. I want to see what I write when I am not trying to please or impress anyone else. I want to write just for me.
I'll be back with a few last posts before the end of the year, tying up a few loose ends as it were.
Until then, I want to thank you for travelling with me to here. You are a big part of the reason why I still proudly call myself a writer... something that was a tiny, tentative whisper when I started blogging five years ago.
Grateful for you,