I'm writing this post to clear my head as well as to provide help to anyone in the same position as the one I've suffered in recent months.
Writer's block comes in different forms. I've got stuck for ideas before but this has been a bigger problem than that. This has been a question of faith - in my ability as a writer. We all suffer from it at some point in our careers but finding your way out of that midnight-black maze is never easy. So here's my story.
With The Knights' Protocol self-published, it's taken a long time to get reviews for it. I know you need to be patient, bloggers are busy people with full-time jobs. The few reviews I've had have scored 4 and 5 stars but there aren't enough to gather the momentum needed to impact on the market. I've submitted to agents and publishers too in the hope of pursuing the traditional route.
The result? Silence. Tumbleweed rolling over the landscape.
What really pisses me off is the lack of communication. The etiquette of a short, polite email that says, 'Thanks but no thanks.' I could deal with that. What I can't deal with is not knowing. There are people who've said they'd review my story an age ago and I've heard nothing from them. Some bloggers are great in that they agree a timescale with you, so you know how long you'll wait.
Writing in a vacuum allows your demons to surface. They gnaw away at your confidence, nibbling at your self-belief as a writer. They're hungry little buggers. When people don't reply to you, what are you supposed to think?
Over time, it works like coastal erosion. Your faith in your writing crashes into the Sea of Desolation. You thrash around in its muddy waters because no one is throwing you a life jacket. No one has even noticed you've fallen off the cliff.
Everyone is busy. I get that. But are we so busy that we can't maintain the briefest, most perfunctory of relationships? Such as replying to an email? I always have. No matter how busy I've been. And I resent the lack of courtesy, the lack of respect, it shows.
So, I've floundered around, performing my own rescue. I've realised a few things about myself in the process.
1. You can write and you're good at it. You're not great and if you want recognition you need to work at it.
2. You might write fantasy, there's no point in trying to live it. If people don't reply, fuck it. Don't get caught up in the spiral of trying to work out why. They don't value your communication, so don't place any value on them. Deal with reality.
3. Writing is a need, an urge you cannot control. So keep it internal. Don't seek validation from external sources. Focus instead on improving the craft. Work at becoming an even better writer.
4. Focus on the future, not the past. Decide where you want to be, remember you can't get there if you're always looking behind you.
So I've shrugged off my hungry little demons for the time being. They'll return and this post will help me to fight them off next time. I hope it serves the same purpose for other writers too. I'm going back to my WIP with renewed energy. I'm leaving my published work to fend for itself in the meantime. I'm going back to finding the enjoyment I get from writing because I'd ignored it by focusing on other people.
I'm a writer. I write. Other people can engage with me if they want but they won't define me. If they choose to ignore me? Fuck 'em.