Overnight, somewhere between 12th and 13th of January in the Year of Our Lord 2013, I experienced a new awakening. It was tough. It was cruel. Nothing like the sweet music and white feathers gliding from angels’ wings onto to my whiter than white pillow. Oh no! It was the middle of the night. It was cold. My fluffy toys were fast asleep, snoring softly by my side. And it was then that I realised my writing was good for nothing.
I have written 3 books for adults – no, not THAT WAY adults – just ordinary adults with an average appetite for sex and no known deviations of character. Out of those three books, one had returned a semblance of interest from an agent who thought however that the opening was so strong and explicit that it simply could not be sustained:
“The opening scenes are moving and it is clear that you have shared your personal experience of loss with your reader. Whilst this can heighten the sense of authenticity, I felt in your case that your personal exorcism of the past, as you put it, has precipitated such a dramatic opening portrayal of death that I fear it would be hard to sustain for the length of a novel.”
Another agent had commented about my third book that it had moments of brilliant writing interspersed with moments of equally astonishing crap writing. So that was the story of my output for adults.
I went on to write 4 books for young readers, all of which have dedicated pages on this website. One of those books, “Be Gone” from the “In the Web of Time” series attracted interest from an agent who requested the full manuscript. I am yet to hear from the agent and I fear, in all honesty I can muster, that if there is going to be any news it isn’t going to be good. Too much water has gone under the bridge since the first expression of interest. I tried another agent with the same book. She responded positively by stating that the book stands out from all other material she gets, but still – regretably she could not take it on.
As for the other books, I have sent them to agents and a couple of them were entered into competitions. Nothing came of it. The sinking feeling you get when a rejection note comes or when the deadline expires for a competition is indescribible so I won’t try. But it is soul destroying.
I analysed the possible reasons for this tragic state of affairs. Many came to mind – many that would somehow explain it away without me losing face and faith, for example: oversaturation of the book market – everyone can write these days and everyone does. Books are everywhere, good and bad, piled up together on the great pyre of self-publication and e-market. People read less or rather, there is less diversity in what people read, ie we have a global readers market where every now and again one book becomes a bestseller read by millions and nobody cares or has the time to look for niche authors. Mass market is the death of individual taste in books. I could think of million other reasons – or excuses, as I should put it if I could bring myself to do so – but all in one it all boils down to me and my writing. Is it really that mediocre?
I am compelled to write. It’s a need I feel obliged to satisfy in order keep my mind and soul healthy, but that doesn’t mean my writing is any good. Does it have any potential readers? Is what I write about of any interest to anybody out there? Is my style captivating to anybody? Is there any magic in my work? The answers to all of these soul searching questions is overwhelmingly NO.
So what do I do? Giving up is an option. Getting more serious about my day job? Maybe I should be more professionally ambitious. I have the background. I have the ability. The skill. It’s just that I never have the time to pursue it seriously – all due to my obsessive writing. If only I gave it up, I could get somewhere in my career. Except that my life is a story of wasted talents and opportunities. Because I am a damned stubborn writer and little else matters.
Still, at least now I am beginning to question my reasons for existence. I put aside my latest book – two books, in fact: one for children and another one a crime story. I sort of gave up. Did I give up on writing or on those two books? I feel I am only giving up on following the old path of getting nowhere with my traditional output. I need to undergo a mutation. I have to find a voice that will attract readers. I must stop writing about what I want to say and start writing about what others want to read. Cheap skate? Maybe, but I am sick and tired of making a cake that I am then forced to eat all by myself. There is simply no fun in it. And no sense of achievement. Plus, it makes you fat. I mean, bloated inside like an unexploded bomb.