The talented and delightful (I haven’t met her, but she seems to be) Delilah S Dawson posted an insightful and candid thread on Twitter today about dissociation, specifically among authors, and some of the self-imposed challenges we face. You can read it here and I hope you do, because it says a lot and it says it in better ways than I can.
A lot of it really resonated with me, and despite reading it and feeling better about myself as a result (it’s not just me! All authors do this, we’re a strange bunch, don’t I feel better now?) an hour later, and I don’t really feel better at all.
Because yes, it is weird and yes, we do a lot of this to ourselves, piling on pressure, doubting ourselves, being stuck in that awkward place of wanting to do something challenging and different and the utter terror that doing so and getting it wrong will destroy our careers.
I’m waiting to hear back on three projects of varying lengths, one of which is definitely different and challenging, and the waiting is wreaking havoc with my ability to work on anything else – hence the rambling blog.
The result is, at least in my case, a bit of a slump. A touch of depression. A constant anxious loop of “I shouldn’t have taken the risk – they won’t like it – what if they love it but readers don’t like it – I’ve destroyed my career – I shouldn’t have taken the risk…” ad nauseum. And the stupid thing is, I know at least one of these projects is actually really liked by the people who’ve got it. So why am I looping? Loopy? If I could answer that, I’d bottle it and give it away for free to creatives because I know I’m being daft. But knowing something and stopping something are not the same things.
So it’s safe to say I’m feeling a little bit fragile at the moment. No, this is not a cry for help. I’m not expecting and don’t want/need an outpouring of comforting comments or undeserved praise. I’ve just always wanted to be honest about the process of being a writer and, at the moment, it’s hard. If it’s hard for you too, welcome to the club. Now keep going. If it isn’t, hooray! Also keep going.
And in the spirit of that honesty, it’s also hard financially at the moment, for a variety of boring reasons I won’t go into. By the way, did you know I now have a Patreon? (Smooth, Anna, absolutely no one saw that for the plug it is.)
So anyway, there’s a lot going on. We’re off on holiday very soon, having booked it before the financial worries, so I’m focusing on that and relaxing with my husband and trying to switch off this stupid brain for a while.
And reminding myself, daily, that I’m doing my dream job. That I’m in this for the long haul – as I said to my agent, I want this to be a career, not a career break. That maybe the different and challenging thing I did will work out, or maybe it won’t – but I’ll learn from it either way and that can only help me be a better writer. And that the finances are a worry, but not yet alarming. There’s time. We’ve got time.
Time to make the most of it.
Currently reading: Certain Dark Things, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; and 1491: new revelations of the Americas before Columbus, by Charles C Mann
Currently watching: Killing Eve season 2; The Handmaid’s Tale season 3