Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Depression, AKA "lying fallow"...

So. I've got three books already on the waiting list at Bloomsbury, two of which are coming out in the next year, and my agent has told me that basically she's not going to be able to sell them any more for at least another year. Fair enough.

But what the hell am I meant to do every day?

Unfortunately the adult novel is, at the moment, like wading through treacle. (There has to be a less hackneyed phrase for that, but hey, it'll take too much work to come up with it. You see what I mean.) Possibly this is just a reaction after writing 100,000 words of it in six months - that's what I'm hoping - but possibly it's a reflection of the fact that after all it isn't quite the masterpiece I thought. Just the idea of it depresses me, right now - and this despite the fact that over the last few days I've been rewriting the beginning, and managed to produce a few thousand not-incompetent words, which I guess is a step in the right direction. But it's like looking at a really, really untidy room: you sort of know that if you start with, say, the dirty plates and mugs, and then move on to the underwear, and so on and so on, you will eventually start to make a difference - but it's so daunting that you end up paralysed and helpless, knowing you'll never do it. However. I really need to get on with it, because I can send it to my agent once it's a bit more presentable and then if it's rubbish at least she'll tell me and I can get on with something else. So I will soldier on.

But once I've sent it off (if that day ever comes, sigh) - then what am I supposed to do?

I was feeling quite low a few weeks ago. This was before I screwed my courage to the sticking place and actually started the adult-novel redraft (henceforward "ANR"), and I was getting up in the morning and not wanting to work and not wanting not to work and generally doing nothing. (There're only so many times you can google yourself before it stops being useful. If it ever is.) And I felt dreadful. That's when being a writer really sucks: when you're not writing. Then you're stuck on your own without a proper job and all that imaginative energy is working away at your self-confidence, asking you why you're doing this to yourself and how come everyone else always gets the prizes and why your editor hasn't got back to you when, dammit, she's already had two hours?

So I was googling myself, following links and blogs and things, reading about YA writing and the Twilight phenomenon and its sexual politics and so on, and I decided I was going to write a cynical, unoriginal supernatural romance that my agent could sell for some actual money. I planned it all out in my head, and then started to write it, thinking I just needed some cash and I didn't care how good it was. And you know what? I suddenly realised I was enjoying it. No, more than that. I wasn't feeling crap any more.

I realised that I just needed to write something. That was why I was feeling so down. If I'm not writing something - if I don't have that sense of advancing a little bit every day, of going to bed having achieved something, of having something that I can obsess about and have absolute power over - I feel bad. It's that simple.

OK, that's probably pretty unhealthy. But I was glad I'd realised.

I duly sent my agent a synopsis and the first three chapters. I'm hoping she'll say yes, this is going to earn you vast amounts of money, write the rest immediately. Failing that... well, failing that, I hope she doesn't reply - because once I've sent my ANR off for feedback, I'll need something to work on. And I'd rather find out after I've written it. Sound weird? Yes, I know.

Or I suppose I could just get a job.

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