Friday, 21 September 2012

All Change

If there's one thing that continues to amaze (and frustrate) me as an author, it's the way that everything can change for a writer in just a second. It can be a flash of inspiration, an excited email from a publisher or the melancholy moment of release when you decide to give up on a book and move on. There can be few other careers so dependent on these sudden, unexpected shifts of fortune, and our inner drama queens love to spin out these moments and feature them prominently in our personal narratives. Hold tight, because I'm about to do exactly that!

I had my last moment of sudden change a month ago, with this blog. Despite a run of what I considered good posts, my page views were down and my enthusiasm was flagging. Perhaps, after three years, it was time to admit that I had run out of ideas and quit before I started repeating myself. After all, personal blogging is SO last decade, and it seemed like time to concentrate my efforts on my fiction rather than So I dithered for a week (as I'm wont to do), wrote half of a post that I hated and watched Friday come and go without blogging. As I predicted, my inbox did not fill up with outraged readers who were wondering where my weekly post was. It seemed that nobody cared – least of all me.

So that would have been that. I would stop blogging without any fanfare and play the doomed martyr as I waited for somebody – anybody – to notice. Having watched Facebook friends slide out of view for various reasons (impending deadlines, sickness, personal stuff etc.), I've always been rather shocked how easy it is to forget and move on, how transient online relationships can be. And that, I was stubbornly sure, would be the fate of this blog.

For me, it was a moment of inspiration the next morning that changed things around. I'd gone out to a café to write fiction, but the blog thing was still nagging at me. There'd been a long running thread on the SCBWI Yahoo Group that dealt with the frustrations of an author's life and the pitfalls of speaking openly about rejection, pitiful advances and poor sales. My half-written post had touched on the subject, but I struggled with all the same problems that others had faced. How to moan without seeming negative? How to have my cake and eat it?

It wasn't a cake that inspired me, but a cappuccino (I find cappuccinos immensely therapeutic). If I used someone else's voice and not my own, then I could say anything I wanted to! And so fact and fiction merged, Sir Stanley de Winter was born and Etiquette for Authors became a roaring success. I was back in the blogging business.

I'm sure there are lessons in all this, if you care to look for them. I could wax lyrical about not trying to force creativity and waiting for the cosmic muse to nod in my direction. Or something. But what I've mostly taken away from this small experience is a reminder that the one constant in everything we do is change. You can't be perfectly happy and inspired all the time, but neither do you have to remain dejected and miserable. A change is gonna come.



  1. "There can be few other careers so dependent on these sudden, unexpected shifts of fortune"

    Bomb disposal...