The loneliness of a long-distance writer

 

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This is the hard bit. The bit where the real authors are sorted out from the wannabes. The bit where those not determined enough, passionate enough, driven enough, give up and fall by the wayside.

This is the bit where you are reminded that writing a book is not a short sprint but a long, hard marathon of endurance. My own willpower is wavering a little lately, I admit. I’ve been ill at a constant low-level for two months or so now. Niggling things such as colds, stomach bugs, shingles, even mouth ulcers, all showing me how run down I am, and slowing down my writing. I’m tired all the time. All. The. Time. I even wake tired. What I want to do – perhaps what I need to do – is take a break, rest, regain my zing.

This is the part of being an author that people rarely speak of. Instead, we concentrate on the positive: great reviews of current books, cover reveals, good sales rankings. But lurking in the background is The Fear about the current work in progress.

My book is on the wrong path.

There, I’ve said it.

Right now, I don’t know how to get it right. I feel lost and bereft. I feel completely useless. I feel as if all my worst fears are coming true – and this is almost certainly why I’ve been ill. Most of all, I feel completely alone. I am self-published, so there is no editor to talk things through with, no team supporting me. There is just me, lost.

But I won’t give up. I can’t. Every time I try to, I get more ideas for other books, or think of a new way to solve the problems with my current work in progress. And that’s the good news. That shows that I’m not as lost as I think I am, and that if I keep on going I will, one day, spot something shimmering on the horizon and drawing ever closer. The finish line. Reserves of energy I didn’t know I had will kick in, and I will sprint across it and once again feel that exhilaration of achievement. I’ll look back over the distance I have travelled, the huge volume of words I’ve written, the story I have woven, and think: “How the hell did I do that?”

How? Because I’m an author, and writing novels is a long, hard marathon of endurance. I’ve done it before, and I’ll do it again. All I have to do is keep going.

****

UPDATE

****

It’s now twelve months exactly since I wrote this post. I finished the manuscript, sent it off to agents and publishers, and got a four-book deal with Bookouture. Coincidentally, The Darkest Lies (which is what the manuscript became) was published on Friday, and has entered Amazon’s Top 100. What a difference a year makes!

So if anyone reading this post feels like giving up, I really, really hope this helps to keep you going. Who can say where you will be a year from now…

xx

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Heartfelt post Barbara … so much resonates with my own writing/blogging efforts. Will say don’t underestimate or dismiss persistent fatigue though… see your GP & get an ‘MOT’ – fatigue can often be a medical blip that can be quickly fixed or an indication something else needs attention… Take care xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Poppy. It really helps knowing there are other people going through a similar thing. I wasn’t sure about writing the post, but it was cathartic, and I did feel it was something that should have a little light thrown on it, rather than us all keeping quiet and suffering alone 🙂 You may be right about the health MOT, too…although I am one of those people who never sees a doctor unless I think I am dying! Thank you so much for your lovely words xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Writing can be such an isolated job … I’m always grateful when anyone takes the plunge to write about what is so often swept under the carpet, the issues of writing not just the written words. Do make an appt & see your GP … catching causes for fatigue early can have much better outcomes & prevent long drawn out periods of illness or needlessly feeling crap. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. suefortin says:

    I’ve been on that run before. In the end I had to abandon it. I didn’t give up though. I completed two further runs before I went back to *that* one. It was far easier then, I suddenly knew how to complete it, what was missing, what the vitals were to get back on track.
    It’s a horrible feeling and you have my total sympathies, Barbara but you sound like the sort of writer who won’t be quitting any time soon. Just go easy on yourself and I’m sure it will all come good and you’ll get over that finish line.
    Sue
    x

    Like

    1. I have considered taking a break from this book and getting on with another, but I fear it might confuse me further. I’m going to give it a little bit longer, but it may come to that. As you say, it’s only a rest, not a break, then I can carry on. Thank you for you kind words x

      Like

  3. writeanne says:

    Sorry you’re going through this, Barbara. You describe just how I’m feeling at the moment. It’s horrible. I think it’s time to rest and recharge – just need to give myself permission. Why is it we find it so hard to take the very advice we’d give to others. All the best. Thanks for sharing. You’re not alone.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Anne, when I wrote this post this morning I had no idea the impact it was going to have. I’m so glad that it has resonated with so many people, and helped in some way. Do give yourself permission to step back for a while, take a breather, and then set off again – it’s a pause in the journey, not an admission of defeat. If you give yourself permission, I’ll give myself permission, deal? xx

      Liked by 2 people

      1. writeanne says:

        It’s a deal. Sometimes just breaking the routine – doing things in a different way or different order – works for me. All the best 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Let me know how you get on x

        Liked by 1 person

  4. colingarrow says:

    Unfortunately, this is all very familiar and there’s no way to avoid it (at least some of the time). However, we choose to do what we do because we love it. As you say, you just have to keep going. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Rae Cowie says:

    Hope all these positive comments help, Barbara and you feel better, both physically and about your writing, very soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reblogged this on Barbara Copperthwaite and commented:

    Facebook has just reminded me that exactly 12 months ago I blogged this. Given that at the moment I’m celebrating the publication of my latest book (the very one I’m despairing about on this post), have now got a four-book deal with Bookouture, and am feeling very excited about the future, I thought it timely to share the post again.
    Twelve months ago I was at the end of my tether, run down, and wondering what the heck I was doing. I felt like giving up. This is for anyone feeling like that right now. Don’t give up – you will get over that finish line.

    Liked by 1 person

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