The terror of writing; confessions of a coward in Sevilla

Writing produces in me this fear so profound, that I become the Master Procrastinator, and end up hating myself.

Is this normal? Here I am in Sevilla, southern Spain, the ‘frying pan’ of Europe, or so it is called. It’s August 2018, and I am free, free of responsibilities. I am an empty-nester, adult children flown the nest. I can now roam the world and live as I please.

I have a little bit of saved money in my pocket, enough to rent a gorgeous attic hotel room with a private courtyard garden, enough to buy my beloved cafe con hielo (iced coffee), and eat tortillas and jamon, enough to feel calm and happy, but here I am, in the midst of an existential crisis. About writing!

I have a beautiful story idea, one I am in love with. I have made notes and have started to build the foundation of the story, the structure on which the poetic elements will be woven, but I am terrified and this terror is like a silk handkerchief tied tight around my mouth. It goes something like this:

I am going to die, and death is coming and I need to tell this story because nothing else matters, and I don’t want to vanish and not have told this story. This story is in my mind and no one cares about it at the moment. It’s a story that resonates only with me because it’s in my mind.

Life is beautiful and life is tragic and life is all we have and nothing much matters except the emotional desire to be free and pure and live experiences as they arise.

The internal crisis continues: I have written novels before but can I write others. Why should I bother on this path, when it’s a path littered with disappointment and invisibility? Can I write? Do I have the energy to write? Should I open a shop and be a grocer, after all people will always need to eat but they don’t seem to want to read books anymore.

Can I compete in this world? Do I want to compete in this world? I am getting older. Is it too late for me? I am invisible so perhaps it doesn’t matter. Maybe all that matters is the universe and nature. Does this mean I am becoming religious? I don’t want to become religious because religion scares me. Everything scares me. There is a fork in the road and one says ‘die’, the other part of the fork says ‘live’. Which do I choose?

Humans are complicated and we are our own worst enemies. Just write, my annoying inner voice says. I will try. 1000 words today. Amen.

edf
My private writing space, Sevilla, Spain, August 2018
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Dumb, dumb, smart, smart, dumb…….

This is the dance of life, the message given in this brave new world of author-entrepreneurship. Now you have to be an authorpreneur – that hideous buzzword that implies that because the Internet (capital ‘I’) has destroyed the creative world, authors, creatives have to – and I mean HAVE TO promote themselves and be at it TWENTY-FOUR SEVEN.

In my view nothing destroys creativity more than systems and rules and ‘have-to-be’ scenarios. NOTHING is more important to me as a writer than having serious alone-time, thinking-time, where ideas and plots emerge out of the fog of this shout-and-stare world, WITH NO DISTRACTION.

The pressure to be on all the time is making me physically sick. Writers are not supposed to be ‘on’ all the time, and by ‘on’ I mean be ‘social’ and out there promoting themselves.

I am an obsessed reader. I read from the minute I open my eyes in the morning and then throughout the day. I never want to know the author personally or look at their life online or connect with them in any way.

The fact that they have written a book is enough for me. It’s enough of their world. I respect it and them. I read their book and I move on.

I wrote yesterday that I don’t get/understand social media, but the more I dig down into the subject (reluctantly) the more I know that I actually do understand social media; I have just never been able to make it work for me because I am completely overwhelmed by it. And that makes me cry. And the sad thing is I don’t see this pressure to promote yourself going away any time soon.

I am doing an experiment at the moment. I am running an advertising campaign on Amazon – paid for by me – just to see if this quiet method of getting noticed works. I will report back on my findings when my ad campaign is finished.

I have a mailing list but only a few subscribers; I have a Facebook page and hundreds of likes there – but no sales. I try giving away my novels but I can’t give them away, no one downloads them. I have an Instafreebie account and a Bookfunnel account and no downloads. I have asked people to review my books but no one is willing.

I don’t like to Tweet and sell – that’s not my style.

I don’t like the begging bowl that is Patreon, I feel too weird about that platform.

So what is the answer? I have no clue. This is not a whinge, it’s a fact, it’s the truth. Last month I made £4 in royalties from all of my books. Yes, that’s four UK pounds.

I know my books are fine pieces of work because I have been writing for money – journalism – for many, many years. I won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in the Thriller/Mystery category in 2013, out of 10,000 and got an advance and made a lot of money because Amazon know how to market and sell to their mailing list of squillions.

I am on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Mailchimp, Instafreebie, Bookfunnel, Smashwords, Kobo, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Lulu but no – nothing.

Someone tell me. What am I doing wrong?

x

 

 

 

Tripping into the sub-conscious

I’m working on a play at the moment, writing scenes in a free-style that will – hopefully – be incorporated into my play and used as building blocks in the final draft. My play is also a novel. Its themes are the evil of human nature and the final ‘fall down’ of the human species.

Which leads me to focus on one important fact; that writing stories – in my view – is primarily about thought, about thinking, and about going down deep into the ‘other world’ that is the subconcious mind.

OK, so opening the document on which I am going to write various words starts this process of thinking. The document has a name – i.e the play’s working title – and the title inspires thought – deep thought.

This seemingly easy task of creating a new document on which to write a play, a novel, a poem, a drama, seems easy but it’s not; the end result – a play, a novel, a poem, a drama – looms large in the mind and then it starts raining questions which pulls the mind in all sorts of directions; what is this piece about? Who are the characters? Why am I writing this? Why do I care about this piece so much? Care about it enough to write it all down? Care about it enough to think about it on such a deep level?

These questions produce a kind of agony and that agony comes from having to face a certain ‘truth door’, and step through it.

The ‘truth door’ can and does reveal all sorts of nasties, and the nasties come at you the moment you enter this deep place, usually known as the subconscious which happens while you are in the deep thought process.

But the nasties – deep thoughts that deal with personal insecurities, failings, hatreds, phobias, actions motivated by fears etc – are controllable in the thought place that is the author’s personal writing world, and if we face them we start having an enormous amount of fun.

For example, one of my characters is deeply flawed so the question arises- does this represent me? Is it too autobiographical? If the answer is yes – this represents one of the nasties – and it can be hard to face these truths.

But if another of my characters reminds me of a loved one, departed from this world, this soothes the nastiness of facing myself through the truth door, and lets me have fun in the world of deep thought free-writing.

This might be why real life is so difficult for many writers, because in order to write we need to literally live our stories, live inside our characters, live everything they go through.

Real life becomes sub-par; the life of our stories is so much better – for one we can control it, whereas we have no control over ‘real’ life.

Which leads back to the necessity of deep thinking in order to write.

Deep thinking – sub-conscious thinking – in today’s world is very hard, given that we’re bombarded with demands on our attention every waking minute.

But deep thinking is necessary for writers – uninterrupted time, quiet spaces, aloneness, and in huge quantities.

Writers – including me – need to redesign their lives to make that possible. Is it possible? Tell me what you think.