Writing, eh? Sheesh. What a rollercoaster…
First, you get an idea for a story, and: Excitement! You start writing. Seat-of-your-pants style, or carefully planned—all storyboarded out, scene by scene. Maybe you workshop it, get some feedback. Edit it. Re-write it. Re-write, re-write, re-write. Late nights, early mornings. Add a scene here, cut one there, edit it again, proofread it, tweak a couple things… until, finally, you’re done. (You’re never done, but fuck it.) Now’s the time. Send it out. Immediately notice a couple of typos. Feel sick. Wait… In the meantime, you work on a couple of other bits. You read. Anything and everything. New stuff, old stuff—stuff you’ve read a dozen times already and only now notice that you’ve basically been ripping off [insert names of several oft-referenced authors here] for the last eighteen months or so. Fuck! Even now, as you write this blog, you think, oh my God… really?
Back to the manuscript. Maybe you get a response or two. “Sorry, but on this occasion blah blah blah…” Maybe not. Maybe they don’t even bother to tell you it’s been rejected, and you only find out by logging into your Submittable account a month and a half later. Whatever. Par for the course. No biggie… Maybe it wasn’t any good anyway (though you have your doubts about that). Maybe you used the word ‘fuck’ too many times. Or maybe it’s because it was another first-person narrative about a bunch of stuff that kind of, sort of happened to you, and the publishing world is sick of that, there’s way too much of it these days. And okay, fine, you get that. You’re still young(ish), still learning; had to go through that self-indulgent-crap phase before stepping out and writing what you don’t know. Still, you’re proud of it. Proud that you actually completed something. Besides, it was good. It had a beginning, middle and end. The protagonist learnt something, was changed by the experience. (Or not—‘cuz, y’know, life’s like that.) Whatever. Either way someone—someone you love and admire, and whose opinion you respect (no, I’m talking about my mum, or my girlfriend) said that it was beautifully written.
Now, though, it’s time to move on. The Next Project. Step up your game—both in terms of output and ambition. Think big. Get excited. And start writing again! Because, really, what else is there? I think it was Tom Spanbauer that said, “I have to have a dream, and for me the dream is the next book…” ‘Course, if you’re Tom Spanbauer, you’ve probably got fairly solid grounds to believe that the next one will be pretty good, and that it’ll get snapped up before you can say earth-shattering masterpiece… You, on the other hand, will have to remind yourself of the chorus to Chumbawumba’s 1997 smash hit, Tubthumping (“I get knocked down, I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down…”) and find strength in those fine lyrics as you press on with your Next Project… because, as Ronan Keating put it, so succinctly, life—or in this case, writing—is a rollercoaster. You just gotta ride it.