I’ve been away. Some people have even noticed. People have stopped by but there was no one at home. They left notes (thanks Adi), but I couldn’t read them until now.
The truth is, I’ve been on holiday from writing. I even took a holiday from my blog. At first it was because I needed a break, but writing (this sort anyway) is not a day job and I realized that no one could make me go back.
Over the last 6 weeks I’ve had a sort of writing crisis, a writing equivalent of a relationship breakdown, where I couldn’t face the thought of looking at my novel, or even keeping up this blog. Perhaps I’d simply worked too hard to finish the draft of my novel before my holiday, and read too many novels while I was away. Perhaps I’ve been expecting too much of writing, and writing’s been too demanding of me.
The plan was to take a couple of weeks away from writing and then come back to it. But once away, I found I didn’t miss it. A holiday turned into a trial separation. I thought I’d get withdrawal symptoms. I used to say writing saved my life, it kept me sane, or at least provided an essential creative outlet. But it turns out that none of these things are strictly true.
I found that I already had another creative outlet, in photography. I’ll never be a great photographer. Ok, I’ll never be a ‘great writer’ either, but I always imagined that someone might one day say ‘have you read that book by Debra Broughton? It’s great’.
So finding that writing wasn’t essential any more came as a shock and I started to ask myself some questions.
Why am I spending time writing books that no one might ever read?
Is it worth the opportunities I’ve passed up, the friendships I haven’t pursued, even the nights out getting drunk?
When you’re serious about writing, you have to make those choices every day. You have to make sacrifices, compromises, there has to be some give and take.
This year, I’ve come almost to the end of the road with a novel that has gone from nowhere, helped me get an agent, almost got on the list with a great publisher (though I’ll never be sure exactly how close I came), helped me lose my agent, and got turned down by every other reputable agent in London. One of the dodgy ones was interested a few years back, but that’s another story. It takes a lot of energy to complete that cycle and start over with another novel.
Last Friday, I decided to give writing another chance, even if I can live without it. We spent the day together, and I enjoyed it. I’m not back in love with it, but we went on a date, and the date went well.
So I’m at a crossroads, and without really thinking it through, I came to a decision, or rather the decision came to me.
Just like a relationship on the rocks, we’re going to give it another go. I owe it to writing, and I figure writing owes it to me. And in these situations, it’s best to set some goals, and a deadline for improvement. I was going to put the deadline in the blog for all the world to see, but I don’t think that’s fair on either of us. But we’re not going anywhere, until we’ve tried to make it work out.