Monday 23 May 2011

I'm just no good

My last update was more than a week ago. Now, received wisdom is to blog every day - and most people expect to see at least 3 or 4 updates a week. I'm seemingly incapable of it. My life's not *that* interesting. Sometimes, big things go on behind the scenes that I can't talk about because they are dirty laundry, or are in the process of getting resolved, or just very emotional, and I rather wait and calm down and think things through before I go on record with anything.

Also, the last week has been spent "promoting" Scorpion. Reviews so far are looking good. I'm still in the stage where I check my reviews every day, but I know that once the next brain parasite book takes hold, I'll stop caring. I sometimes make fun of people who run around like excited chicken, squawking "I LAID AN EGG! OMG, IT'S AN EGG! IT'S ROUND AND WHITE/BROWN AND IT'S HARD ON THE OUTSIDE AND SOFT ON THE INSIDE! I'M THE GREATEST CHICKEN EVER! I LAID AN EGG!"

You know, that's what chicken do. We lay eggs. I deeply care about the current book, and I probably am like any other author in that I love to talk about my work, but at the end of the day, the process is natural and perfectly normal. Writers write. Chicken lay eggs. It's nothing special. And I much rather invest the energy and passion into the next one rather than running around telling people "BUY MY BOOK!", because firstly, that doesn't work, and secondly, I much rather write another book.

The proof of the writer is in the writing, not in the marketing, the blog schedule or how excited we're getting about what we're doing. The excitement is a given, but I'm a workman, I write one after the other, loving every one of them (of course, otherwise I wouldn't sacrifice every free minute to a pursuit that pays less per hour than slinging lattes at a coffee shop), but really, the worst part of writing is NOT writing. (The one thing worse that NOT writing is that gut-wrenching feeling of "it's no good, it won't come together, the whole thing is doomed to fail!" - that terrible, terrible angst I'm getting about 40% into a book. EVERY book.)

Compared to the Mid-Book Crisis and the I'll Never Write Again angst, nothing any reviewer can say can hurt me. To get a book out, I have had to overcome both. Reviews don't figure on my list of things I'm scared of. Sure, it's a bummer if a reviewer who is clearly intelligent and insightful ends up hating my book, but, really, by the point reviews roll in, I'm already two books ahead. Getting criticized for a book that has just come out feels a bit like reading your assessments from Middle school. ("Alex is a clever kid, but he loves getting distracted".)

For example, I started "Scorpion" in June 2010. To me, it's a very special book, because it's the only thing I wrote while getting my soul eaten by financial journalism for six months, working long hours every day and most weekends, travelling a lot and freaking out over learning an industry that could just as well have been happening on an alien planet, with my career (and mortgage) depending on providing insightful commentary that the practitioners would want to read.

Scorpion is my "fuck this, I WILL write!" book. Defiance in the face of exploitation - if having a cushy, high-profile white collar job can be called "exploitation" (well, certainly how THAT company did it). "Scorpion" happened despite everything. It's the book that lived, even though I tried to kill it a few times, even though it hit the brick walls so hard I could feel my teeth rattle.

These are the "book" stories few authors share, because every book teaches us something different about writing and about ourselves. And saying "hey, I was nearing burn-out, I realized I'm not a journalist despite more than four years in the field and all my scoops and features and all the hard work I put in, I realized that I'd hit the wall of my own lofty ideals and expectations and I was about to be eaten alive and have the joy of everything - writing, living, breathing - sucked right out of me" is not sexy. It's not even very interesting for anybody out there. I'm not holding a pity party. The book has to stand on its own, and so far, a fair amount of people like it and enjoyed it. So, yeah. for me, it's going to be a special book because of the stuff I was going through and still wrote.

But that doesn't matter, either. Once the book's out there, it's out there. The egg's done. Hopefully, I've learnt in the process how to lay better eggs. I've written another novel in the meantime.

Right now, I'm in the "post-book slump", which is one of the two phases of writing that I hate. While I have ideas, they really struggle to get on the page. Low energy, low drive, my famous discipline is faltering a little. I work, but at the end of the day, I have 650 words, which is almost nothing for a whole weekend.

Doesn't matter, though. All that matters is that there's a new book at the end of it. And all the little crises that happen in a writer's life are just seasoning to keep things interesting.


  1. I am right there with you. I wrote the book that just came out last year. I've written two since, one of which is coming out next month and I have to go through this all over again. (I'm already blogged out and haven't a clue what to say about it either.) I'd rather just be writing my next book...

  2. Yeah, the time lag is a Big Issue. 12 months later, anything I've done feels like ancient history - and I do hope I've become a better writer in the meantime.

    But we're still lucky. In epublishing, the lag is just 6-10 month. In print, especially with an agent, we're talking 2-3 years. :) I still think that eliminating the lag might be the best thing about self-publishing.

  3. "Post every day" is just pure BS. It's easy to use feeds that alert the reader to new posts. Unless you're an absolute net newbie, there's no need to click on your favorite bloggers every day to see if they've updated. I'm subscribed to bloggers who sometimes don't post for weeks at a time. No problem. When they do post, I know about it.

  4. Blogging is a lot of work, takes a lot of time. You're so out there everywhere, I wouldn't worry much about the blog daily or often thing.

    And as far as the buy mah book thing... yeah, put your energy into making new ones. The author "buy mah book" thing... total turnoff. Besides, "buy hiz book" is my favorite pastime you know, so... I gotch'yer back. ;) heehee.

    Hope the post book slump goes away soon.

    Later tater.

  5. Impossible to blog everyday, when will you be writing then? Nobody has something to say everyday. Celebs who blog/tweet regularly usually have their assistants do it for them or just post random rubbish to keep the fans enthralled. You're too good for that my friend.