The Battle Between Fantasy and Reality

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. Some readers might think I’ve deserted this website. I haven’t. Regular readers have probably wandered off to find more interesting (and active) blogs to read. That’s fine.

I guess the question on everyone’s lips (if, indeed, anyone still visits) would probably be “is she really going to give up writing?” If I had to answer that, I’d have to say “more than likely”. But that isn’t a definite answer, is it?

Having written that, I find myself sitting and pondering my own words – “more than likely”. I feel nothing when I say that. No fear. No loss. No desire. Nothing. After all those years of writing, I would expect to feel something…sadness, at least…but I feel nothing. I still have no desire to write. I don’t have stories or characters running around in my mind and it’s peaceful. I like it.

I’ve had a few people urge me to turn my attention back to the plans I had for Suicide: A Mother’s Story. They feel it’s a project that needs to be written. It is a topic that is worthwhile and as suicide is on the increase, it needs to be published and people of all ages need to be aware of the signs and dangers. One person even went as far as to say that my personality isn’t suited to writing fantasy stories. They said I’m a practical person who works systematically and has a rather black and white thought pattern. It might sound like a bit of an insult, but I have to admit it’s true.

Maybe this person is right. Maybe I’m ready to move on from make believe and find a place in reality. I can actually see the sense in that as it fits with what I’ve written in earlier posts about need and desire.

Thing is, when I think of Suicide: A Mother’s Story I think of a huge project, filled with emotion, which is daunting. I can face the emotion; it’s a necessary part of such a manuscript. Without it, the words would mean nothing. That’s not the problem. Writing about what happened isn’t a problem either. I’ve already done that and for this project all I have to do is expand on that. It’s the suicide awareness part of the project that feels really daunting. I can’t stand the thought of giving false information and that is the main thing that is stopping me from returning to the project. The other thing is the fact that for me to tell my story I have to refer to the other people involved and … well, that is worrying me also.

Anyway, when I look at my words – “more than likely” – again, it seems that I might be saying that it’s more than likely that I’m finished with fantasy. Has reality finally won the battle?

Never Say Never

A friend and member of the writing email group I spoke about yesterday made the following comment in response to my post – To Write or Not to Write.

I’m also a firm believer in “never say never,” though. Karen, if you don’t feel like writing right now, I think you should absolutely feel free to not write–but it’s not necessary to make a decision about writing/not writing for the rest of your life. There’s some psychological basis for this that makes sense to me–when we say things like “that’s it, I’m giving up writing for good” it makes it harder for us to go back on that decision if, say, we do feel like writing in six months or a year’s time. It’s really quite impossible to make most decisions “for good.” All we can do is make decisions that feel right to us at the present. Making decisions based on the present, for the present, leaves the doors open to us to change our minds in the future.

I found myself thinking about this comment last night and again this morning. These are my thoughts:

I started writing to fill a void in my life. I was desperate to visit exciting worlds of my own creation because the real world was lacking. That void no longer exists so I no longer need that escape.

The need to write was gone so I came up with another reason to write – publication – and for many years I wrote with publication in mind. I grew a thick skin and shrugged rejections away (after quickly noting any constructive criticism I may have received). I learned the ins and outs of the craft. I practiced and then I practiced some more. I knew what had to be done and set about providing exactly that. (I’m not saying I achieved that goal, but I tried hard.)

In this time, I tried to tell myself that the passion I once felt was still there, but in all honesty…it wasn’t. The stories I wrote when I had that void came easily. I wrote for hours on end, long into the night. I wrote at lunchtime, I stole ten or so minutes here and there during work hours, I wrote while on holiday and while visiting people, I wrote in the car. I wrote every second I could. But…the stories I wrote after the void was filled were a constant struggle. I had to force myself to write. I bribed myself and often had to set public goals in order to get anything done. It became hard work because my heart wasn’t in it like it once was.

Then, the closer I got to better writing and possible publication, the worse it became. People (family and friends) started to expect something of me. This just put pressure on me and the pressure made the words dry up even more. How can I walk away when everyone I know thinks I’m going to become famous? They are not writers, they don’t realise how hard the industry is. But I always tried to think of their words as encouragement as they obviously thought I could do it. I love them for that. How does a person concentrate when people are continually asking “are you published yet?” or “Have you finished another novel/story yet?” or “When are you submitting to a publisher?” or “When you’re rich, will you buy me a … *insert extremely expensive item*?”

It was all pressure. Well meaning words that were meant as support and encouragement, but pressure nonetheless. It might sound as if I’m scared of failure. I’m not. I’m scared of success and I feel positive that is the thing that is holding me back.

I’ve gone to book launches, I’ve watched authors being interviewed on TV and I’ve heard them interviewed on the radio too. They all have a pleasant way about them. They smiled, they laughed, they cracked jokes, they seemed comfortable and self assured. None of that is me. The whole thing terrifies me. If I fail, I don’t have to face any of that and I’m happy with that thought. If I succeed…I’d be lucky to crack a joke and get one person to laugh out loud. There’s no way I would be able to crack a smile, I’d be too petrified.

The thing I have to figure out is am I thinking of quitting because I really don’t want to write or because I really don’t want to face the consequences of success. The stupid thing is, no one has a guarantee of publication…or success. It might never happen even if I wrote and wrote right up to the moment I die.

Why not write for the enjoyment then? Do people really do that? For me, there has to be a reason. I know that doesn’t really make sense. I play the Playstation for enjoyment. Some might consider that a complete waste of time as there’s nothing to show for my time when I turn the console off and that would be a true statement. But when I play games, I don’t expect anything from it. I suppose I do expect something from writing and I can’t imagine writing just for writing sake. I guess I’m of the opinion that if a person writes they should be aiming for something – namely publication.

Anyway, a friend said “never say never” and in reply to that comment I can safely say that if I find myself wanting to put pen to paper in six months, a year or a decade…I would. I just thought of something else. Maybe I want to be anonymous
again. Maybe not having family and friends expecting something great from me would do the trick. Maybe that would take the pressure away and give me back the enjoyment. Deep inside, I think the problem is really concerning the lack of passion in what I’m doing. Without passion, what’s the point?

To Write or Not to Write

This morning, I wrote the following and posted it to an email writing group I belong to:

I’ve found myself in situations where I just want to give it all away before, but every time that happened it was spurred on by depression, anger or some other upset in my life. Always in the back of my mind, I knew that “next week I’ll be back to normal”. This time is different. I don’t feel anything other than rested and content. I enjoyed my break over the Christmas and New Year period. I’m back at work now. Yet when I think about writing it brings up feelings of stress and distaste. Writing has become a chore and that is not a good thing.

I mentioned this on this website a few days ago, but it’s the first time I’ve acknowledged my feelings in the group. Anyway, my last paragraph in the post was as follows:

The anthology is the only thing holding me at the moment. I will not give up on that and I intend to see that project through to completion. Who knows, it might be that project that draws me back, but…I might find myself walking away from writing forever at the end of it. It’s not a possibility that I can or will rule out.

I used to love writing. I used to want to write at any spare moment I had. In fact, I used to make time when I didn’t really have it. I used to steal time because writing was what I wanted to do more than anything else. I loved loosing myself in wonderful worlds with great people and intriguing plots. The limits of what happened in those stories were only restricted by my imagination and I had a vivid imagination.

That started to change when I found the internet.

I learned a lot from the internet, and I made some great friends. My confidence grew, but I also began to lose the enthusiasm I previously had. Writing became a business. For those who want publication, there are rules to follow and I don’t care what anyone says about that. If you think there are no rules, then you’re kidding yourself. Anyway, with rules come restrictions and I guess my love of writing was dampened because of that. Sure, I could throw rules to the wind and write whatever I wanted, and some people would do that, but I’m a rule abiding citizen. I know the rules exist and that fact alone would have affected my writing.

However, I know it’s not the rules that have gotten to me. I believe I have just lost the desire to write. I’ve outgrown it. I’ve gone past it. It no longer interests me. What can I say? Hobbies come and go, but this was not a hobby for me. I felt passionate about writing and I was serious in my approach to it. Unfortunately, the passion has evaporated.

I Am Legend

Apparently, this movie is based on a book written in 1954 by Richard Matheson. I didn’t know that when I saw the movie, which obviously means I haven’t read the book. Actually, that’s not entirely true because I can now remember reading somewhere that a book existed, but it didn’t register.

Anyway, upon watching the movie I felt a lot of things were missing because it simply didn’t make sense. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie, but there were huge holes in the plot. Things happened in the movie that didn’t ring true, that were unbelievable and simply unrealistic. Those things bothered me a lot.

Today, I read a post on a message board which compared the movie and the book and I have to say the writer of that post – Alan Baxter – intrigued me. I want to read the book. I don’t mean the version that is in line with the movie, I’m talking about the original book written over fifty years ago. I believe I’ll enjoy it a lot.

It seems to me that those people who haven’t read the book might enjoy the movie, even with the holes. However, for those who have read the book, they might be a tad disappointed with the differences between the two.

Have you read the book and/or seen the movie? What did you think?

2008: A New Beginning

Today I returned to work after a two week break. As always, the break wasn’t long enough, but I’d say that no matter how long I had off work. However, I’m happy to report that I feel relaxed and positive. It’s a wonderful feeling.

What did I do with myself in those two weeks?

Although I wanted to do as little as possible, we were busy. We “entertained” on Christmas Day – as I’ve already written about – and we did it again yesterday because it was G’s birthday. Naturally, yesterday was scaled down to what I’d call a normal bar-b-que. However, it was hot and humid and that spoiled the day in some ways.

We also visited a few people in the two weeks. We did a lot of shopping. And, more importantly, we became addicted to Playstation games…again. We are both playing different versions of Medal of Honor and that’s been keeping us out of trouble, but not particularly quiet.

I also discovered Ebay. I’ve known about it for a long time, of course, but I actually placed bids on several items and won a couple – all Playstation games. It’s nice to buy something cheaper than expected. I haven’t received the items, as yet, but will by the end of this week. I can see that Ebaying could become addictive, but there’s not much chance of that happening to me, because I’m too stingy! 😆

Our internet connection has been somewhat unpredictable. We think it’s a faulty modem and have a replacement, but were not given a power cable and are waiting for that. In the meantime, we are kicked offline without warning. Sometimes we’ll go for hours and other times we can only manage a few minutes. It makes it difficult to do much, but I’m not worried about it. Sometimes I think the internet is a curse, but then the rest of the time it’s a blessing.

What about writing? I can hear your thoughts!

I’m not sure about writing. I haven’t done any. I haven’t thought about doing any. And I’m not sure if I will; except for the anthology, of course. I no longer feel excited about writing. I no longer feel that overwhelming urge to do it. It’s become a chore and I don’t like chores. For the time being, I’m just going to let things be and see how I feel later. No pressure. No promises. No goals.

Lastly, you might have noticed the format of the website has changed. You no longer have to wade through my personal waffling to find writing tid-bits, or vice-versa. The navigation bar above will take you directly to the topic of your choice, which will weed out everything else. The page is automatically updated when I post something in that topic, so it’s always up-to-date.