Monday September 11th 2017
I like to think I have a pretty good sense of self. Sometimes it might take me a day or so to realise my mood or frame of mind when I’ve had chance to unpack it all, but I can normally tell if something is off with me.
Other than occasional anxiety (and I can function through it), mentally I’m pretty healthy. But that’s only because I’ve seen the struggles others have had, and spend a lot of time looking after my own mental health, more as prevention than specific treatment. Writers spend a lot of time in their own heads and sometimes I don’t feel that’s healthy.
But I’ve been in a strange mood the last couple of weeks. The closest I can describe it is like the day before you break out in flu. Forget the physical symptoms, it’s more that sense that you don’t quite feel yourself inside your own head.
I lack my usual fire and motivation for sure, but it goes a bit beyond that. There was part of me that didn’t even want to go out today. I did but only because I forced myself.
Now I’ll probably look back in a year’s time and it’ll be absolutely clear to me, what was playing on my mind, but I think it’s (amongst other things) anxiety based on the book.
Whilst life is never perfect, my writing career over the last couple of years has been moving forwards.
I submitted to my agent on a whim, more out of a drunken promise at Eastercon than an actual belief that I was good enough. And so when I got asked for the full manuscript I convinced myself based on a couple of google searches of others’ experience that, whilst this was a good sign, it would result in a rejection.
I would have been happy to take that rejection. I’d had a few close calls that year already – nearly getting into an anthology I really wanted to be part of, as well as writing a new IP. A rejection would have been progress. I would have walked away saying it was another positive sign.
So when, after seeing Avengers 2 in Oklahoma City, I got the email asking if I would be happy to revise, it came as a shock.
After speaking to friends in the industry and becoming convinced that what was happening was a revise and resubmit, getting signed really knocked me for six. I was convinced handing in those revisions that I’d be told it was a terrible mistake, and that whatever skill my agent thought she saw in me was a minterpretation of my skill based on a fluke.
I battled imposter syndrome last year, which together with the day job going from chilled to the stage where people are now dropping like flies around me, meant I took a long time on the next round of revisions. It’s left me with a fear of being slow, that just as the year before I felt an imposter, this year I feel a fraud for promising I could write quick and then taking a ridiculous amount of time to get revisions in.
This year has been about working on my confidence as a writer, about believing I am where I belong. And so with the third round of revisions, I feel I’ve become a much more competent editor and as a such my writing feels like it’s taken a massive step up. I also didn’t take a year to do revisions. I still feel it’s taken too long.
And so we’re here: now. Maybe there will be another round of revisions. If there is, of course I’ll jump into them, but there will be part of me that will question my own ability as a writer. I know other authors who went through 3 rounds of revisions so I’m happy to accept this as standard, but if I went to 4, would that mean I’m a bad writer? I’ll be honest, I’ll do whatever the story needs, but I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t knock my confidence.
The other option is scary. It’s the abyss.
I’ve been on this rollercoaster for 2 years. In that time, I’ve never wavered from the fact that I think this book is special (even if I sometimes feel it should have been written by a better writer). And we could be arriving at judgement day.
Getting such a great agent was beyond my wildest dreams, and that dream still hasn’t ended. Yet, if we do go on submission, it could be such a cold harsh reality. Whether the book sells or not, it’ll be a major milestone in my life.
There’s part of me that dreams the dream, of a big advance and travelling the world, laptop in hand. The reality will be considerably less than that. I know that. The dream will end. Maybe I’ll find a way to do it fulltime, maybe the following year will be a battle between finding the mental space for both a day job and meeting deadlines.
It’s scary and it’s unknown
But, as I keep telling myself, we’ve been here before. We could get another round of edits. Another round which I want to get done in 2 weeks but because of the day job I can’t get the time off to get done.
And so there’s frustration at the day job, there’s frustration at my writing. There’s tension in the air.
As a result, I think my head is in a strange place because of all of this. And I can tell myself not to worry, to just relax and enjoy my time off, but I’m restless. In many ways, I’m so ready to get off this emotional rollercoaster of revisions. I love the book. I am so proud of the latest edit and how it’s taken the quality to such a higher level, but I am a little sick of it. What comes next: as much as I know the process (and believe me I’ve read EVERY blog post about going on submission), emotionally I don’t know what to feel.
Of course, all the years of hard work have put me in a position of incredible privilege, and I wouldn’t swap being in this position for anything, but I am reminded of something someone once told me. It only gets harder, the further you progress.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels. Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.
- Twitter: @figures
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/adrianfaulknerwriter/
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