People who write can often get bogged down with the concept of finding that great idea which will earn them money and quite often when they do this, they lose themselves and in some cases, even lose the love for writing itself.
I am at fault of doing this as much as anyone, particularly in the past five years, this is because financially I am suffering to the extent that birthdays and Christmases have been disappointing and not as traditional as I am accustomed to. In fact recently I found an old Christmas shopping list, which included food, presents, games and décor and basic normal food to last for two weeks over the festive period so we can focus on more family time and that list was five pages long with two sections on each page; this year it was only 3 pages long with only one section as when I write in an excited state, my letters get bigger than my usual handwriting – which is a bizarre idiosyncrasy that I have. My lists are quite methodical, I will list food from Tesco, Food from ASDA and food from other places separately within the list; I will list where to buy certain presents too and for whom, which shops, so we kind of plan a shopping map in our minds whenever we go to town. Along with this list will be a separate length of what kinds of decorations or traditional Christmas stuff we need, such as crackers from B&M and purple bauble at Wilko, you get the idea? We usually do a massive buffet on an old pasting table in our living room and fill it to the brim with food and drinks as well as the coffee table, because Christmas Eve is the only time in the year where we can guarantee an influx of visitors and we like to feed them – this year it is a no go and I am embarrassed that this may come across as too inhospitable compared to what they are used to, as everyone usually got a bag of food to take with them either for snacks at home that night or jars of homemade stuff, which we just can’t afford to do this year.
I hate pleading poverty, but lately it is getting me to a state of breaking down. I went for advice on my ESA benefits two weeks ago to a lady who is very kind and runs a charity, I was so embarrassed detailing my struggles to her as she was helping me fill out the forms that I was shaking and my teeth were chattering so badly with the humiliation of it all. She thought I was freezing cold, but I told her, it’s just that I am so embarrassed by it all and she said that it was OK, but it really isn’t though is it?
Usually I am very good at being calm and self-composed, despite anxiety issues, but lately I just can’t keep it together, I am struggling to hide behind a façade like my normal self would. Most people can’t tell that I have anxiety issues because I masked it so well, but lately I break out in tears over the smallest of things and what is worse is that I am getting short tempered with it, with people I feel are cold or unfeeling and I have this awful feeling that I will say something out of character at my next medical which will make me lose the benefit. I am very scared about it.
If I could get a job I would, but no one is going to employ someone with the health issues I have. I did struggle a few years to get a job, before it got too bad seven years ago. All of this makes me try to push myself to create something just to get out of this mess, but it isn’t working, it is stunting my creative growth badly because I am not writing what I really want anymore. I am writing the lesser ideas I have which are the most popular amongst my nearest and dearest and unfortunately what I love to write about, they hate immensely.
What I like writing about are dystopian stories similar to Mad Max, I am Legend and Tank Girl. I enjoy writing about vampires and their sired offspring as I call them and histories as a massive saga dating back to the Ancient Sumerians and contemporary times too, how they live and how they lost loved ones. I enjoy writing inane pun infested comedy fantasies where you meet mermaids and trolls with a very Monty Python meets Discworld air to them and I enjoy writing horror that touches taboo subjects.
According to those who are in the know, the only type of book up there I have mentioned that they can barely stomach is the comedy fantasy, not my main love of in depth vampire soap operas and dystopian tribal warfare.
Yes I love my fantasy comedies, but whenever I discuss my writing with those who are privy to them, they always get more excited about any updates on that genre than anything else and I feel if I don’t write this genre more than the others, I am failing to please this specific audience. I am one of these people who find it really hard to talk to people about my work, those I do are precious to my motivation, if I don’t talk about my work, I can’t do the work. But unfortunately my discussion circle seems far too niche and not entirely me.
I used to mix and mingle my genres a lot and had a wider circle I trusted to talk about them to, usually as dinner party discussions but since moving to Warwickshire, I don’t have that anymore. London is a very different place, with very different people with mind-sets very different to Rugby’s.
I have mentioned vampires and horror to people up here I thought I could trust with my writing, but they recoil or give sideways glances to those next to them and simply state “Oh, right, not my cup of tea really”; Then I share my fantasy comedy ideas and they feel that fantasy is strictly for children, surely I should write something nicer for them? Not drunken elves and mermaids who rip eyes out and swear profusely with such corny puns as well!
Apparently my personality must reflect my work and because I don’t lark around like some tomfool jokester all the time and I seem a pretty calm deadpan person in real life, I can’t be taken seriously in comedy surely? Won’t I come across as some kind of fake?
Now that hurts, but it has been said to me before and I find it amusing that comedy must be serious… really? I wonder how we all laugh at serious comedy! Should we laugh at flippant tragedy then? I don’t know what kind of world I have tripped into a hole of, but it is certainly quite different here to where I am from, I can tell you!
I think if I was to walk up to my favourite British comedian of today and say “Darling, you are not taking your comedy seriously” he would choke laughing and crying at how stupid that sounds.
*passes a dictionary to said people and points to the word “comedy” for reference*
So, though I am currently in quandary over my work, my main quander is this – “how can I develop a trusting relationship with people online so that they can become my beta readers and I can learn to trust the online community with my plans and outlines”?
I’m not sure I can. I am very protective of what I share with people because I have often had entire ideas stolen and published behind my back and that someone became very successful with my ideas and have not produced work since I eliminated them from my social circle a decade ago.
I have thought that maybe signing up to a free creative writing course with the OU would help me discuss work and improve my skills with an online tutor? But not sure if that is really what I want – improved skills are always good, but not sure if I want straight laced professional opinions which are bias regardless of genre and content.
Meanwhile, I have been thinking about just writing whatever, whenever and go back to my scatty ways that were long lost a decade ago. Paul tried to organise me too much I think? Tried to get me to focus too much that I lost my way; I don’t really have a way. I am higgledy-piggledy and mentally a mess when creating. Paul often said if a hypnotist was to delve into my mind for just five minutes he would run out of the room screaming “get me out here, she is completely insane, she is such a mess, she is so confusing, help me, help me…. And oh, pass the paracetamol that gave me a headache!”
Why the drama? Because I will have seven documents up at the same time, one is a horror about a cat, two are vampire novels concentrating on two entirely different characters, one is a comedy fantasy with tiny people, and one is a dystopian story based on a religious concept of the apocalypse and angels, the other document is writing notes to eventually put into any work in the future, along with research papers and notes, scribbled papers and notes off the computer, and Wikipedia up on the internet with another internet page looking for the history of Thracian warfare. If that is not enough, I am also meddling with playlists on Amazon music flipping through them depending on which scene and novel I am working on in those few seconds, whilst daydreaming about food and what it might be like if I was the size of a peanut in my garden.
You get the idea? That’s my brain in just five minutes.
I am like the dog who is in the garden playing fetch with you then all of a sudden I have ran away chasing squirrels, then coming back to you wondering where the ball is and oh look sausages!
With a mind like mine, it has been said by people before – is there any reason to wonder if I will ever find it possible to get anything finished?
I pass them some books I have indeed already finished and I do so quite proudly. Then I announce, they are not for sale, they are not edited and they are not good enough. The person looks through them, finds they do indeed need editing but are absolutely wonderful, why not publish them?
Because they are mine! Then I grab the books and hug them close to me with a snarl!
I am like this even with the art I paint too.
Thing is, there are ideas I do want to sell. But I am scared that those private stories reveal too much about my inner workings.
I feel psychologically exposed, basically. It brings about the kind of feeling in which I can only sit back and think, it would be better to be physically nakedly exposed than that, then Paul tells me to stop being weird and dramatic!