Saturday, 8 August 2009

Game Over

I'm going to start this post with something I'm proud of: I know an Iron Man! Last Sunday, Hamsin, my friend and brother-in-law, completed the UK Iron Man Triathlon in just over thirteen hours. For those of you unfamiliar with this event, it's a mind-boggling, non-stop sequence of three huge athletic disciplines:

  1. 3.8 km swim in open water.
  2. 180 km cycle.
  3. A full marathon run, 42.2 km.

Well done Hamsin!

Yo Comments 'bout wh@c

I was going to do some reports about the wonderful Writers' Holiday at Caerleon (wh@c) but BattyPip and Debs have done such great jobs that I'll just point you in the direction of theirs.

Debs' report.
BattyPip: Day one, day two, day three, day four, day five, day six.

I hope they don't mind me using their postings to try to hide my own laziness. It was a really great week at Caerleon, despite the fairly miserable weather. I went for a run on the Wednesday but it was more like a swim. Along a country road, I had to perform an unscheduled ford crossing with water to above my knees!

The week also gave a real shake-up regarding my own writing.

The Future

I've spent a long time thinking about what I'm doing with my life and where I'm going. I'm dissatisfied with a few aspects of it, so I had a big fat think. One thing I focussed on was a review of my writing over the last three years. I came to a few conclusions.

  • There's a distinct lack of progress.
    • Novel 1: Worked on for nearly a year. 40% drafted. Shelved after wh@c 08 when it became apparent that it was not the novel I should be writing.
    • Novel 2: Worked on for over two years. 33% drafted. Has had more plot changes than I care to remember. Feedback from wh@c 09 indicates that it's a complete mess.
    • Novel 3: Worked on it (with co-author) getting on for two years. Although the first draft is complete, feedback indicates that it's massively over-complicated and badly written. A complete re-write would be the only viable solution towards publication.
  • I have minuscule chances of being published.
    • The market is virtually insurmountable.
    • The market usually favours relatively simple plots, single PoV/main character. Pretty much the opposite of what I like to read and write. Compromising to get published removes the fun factor.
  • I'm not really proud of anything I've written.
  • Feedback at Caerleon has made me realise that I have no natural talent and very little hope of publication. In fact, since wh@c 08, my progress seems to have gone backwards. My sense of ability was deluded. It was a humbling experience to find this out.
  • An alternative is to work very hard on my writing to achieve any hope of publication. I estimate that this would take decades, rather than years. I'm not prepared for that kind of commitment, if I'm honest.
  • I've discovered that I have lots of ideas for stories and enjoy story-telling, but writing is hard for me and no longer fun. I've also discovered that I don't really enjoy editing, something essential to getting published.

I'm therefore giving up writing for the foreseeable future. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't quit easily. This is mainly a logical decision, rather than emotional. I need to get on with my life and fill it with things that are achievable and realistic. It's been a very interesting three year experiment; I've had a lot of fun along the way. I've also met a lot of very nice people and made some great friends.

So what next? I don't have the answer yet but it's likely to be something scientific/technical, as that's what I know I enjoy and have some talent for.

This Blog

I don't know what the future of this blog will be. For now, I'll leave it as it is. I may post from time to time, if I think of suitable and interesting things to say. I'll certainly keep reading all of your blogs and keep up with what you're all up to.

I may also resume the Asteroid story, as that can remain fun and pressure-free.

A Big Thank-you

I would not have had anywhere near as much fun as I did, without the help of all my good writing friends, on-line and IRL. I want to say thank you to you all, it's been a great three years. I hope to stay in contact with as many of you as possible and, as I said, I'll be dropping by your blogs and web sites from time to time.


Caroline said...

But you're still going to come and talk to us on Sunday mornings, right????

(((((((((hugs))))))))) because I feel like that myself a lot of the time. Take some time out, let it become fun again and then come back to it if and when you feel ready.

Rachel Green said...

I hope that whatever you do becomes a consuming passion for you. *hugs*

Denise said...

I really don't know what to say to that, except that it's a very brave decision and one I hope you might change in the future. I don't agree at all with your reflection that you have no natural talent, but you're right that it has to be fun or it's too hard. I hope a break, even if it's a long one, makes it fun again.

I agree with Caroline, that doesn't mean you stop turning up on Sundays! A VERY large portion of our conversations have nothing to do with writing, as well you know!

Fiona Mackenzie. Writer said...

You are flipping brave and I know how you feel as I've felt the same very often.

Are you sure about this?

At least, writing is free, you can come back to it any old time you like:)

What about non fiction?

Shall I shut up now? Sorry, hope you continue to be the voice of reason around the novel racers and wannabes.

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

I know where you're coming from as I felt exactly the same way recently. Well, obviously not the same as I'm still pressing on. Mind you, that could be due to stupidity, rather than any form of talent.

Shall keep your blog in my blog list so I can see if/when you next post.

I agree with Caroline that maybe it might be fun for you once more after a bit of time out. x

Unknown said...

Wow - big decision but I know you will have thought this through.((()))s I will keep checking the blog to find out what you have set your mind too next.


Chris Stovell said...

Belime! I was going to say that I was sorry to hear about the conclusions you've reached after your writing week, but, thinking again, I just wanted to say I think you've been really brave. Here's wishing you all the best for the next course in life that opens up for you... don't forget to tell us about it. Good luck.

Caroline said...

That sounds like a huge decision that you've made. I wish you happiness in whatever you do next but really I'm just hoping that you don't disappear.

Take care x

Liane Spicer said...

I'll miss you. Good luck in whatever you do, and hope to still see you around here and there.

CL Taylor said...

Oh Capt'n I'm so sorry you feel this way. From what I've read on Cloud Base I'd have to disagree with the comment that you're not talented. Maybe your novels just weren't to the taste of the agents you talked to at wh@c. It's all so subjective. Some people will love your writing - others will hate it (believe me I know!).

If all the fun has been dredged out of your writing then maybe it's best to give it up for a bit until you feel the urge again but there are so many agents and publishing houses out there it seems defeatist not to keep trying until you've shown your work to all of them.

But I respect your decision - we only have one life and we need to fill it with things that make us feel happy and fulfilled. I hope you'll continue to be a part of blogworld x

HelenMWalters said...

I hope you find something that makes you happy. As a couple of others have said, you can always come back to writing if you feel like it - it will always be here. But mostly I hope you will stay around and still be part of the blogging, FBing world because to lose you from that really would be sad x

Colette McCormick said...

That is the trouble with you IT people. You are just so darned logical. (As someone who has lived with an IT person for nearly 30 years I am qualified to say that.) Your thought process is valid and based on that the decision that you have reached makes sense - but what about writing just because you enjoy it.
I totally respect your decision though and your honesty.
Take care and enjoy whatever you decide to do.

Lane Mathias said...

I'm sad about this.

You say yourself that this is a logical decision rather than an emotional one and although I respect that - please don't rule out writing altogether. Have a break yes, find another direction, but I bet writing will lure you back one day, whether it be short stories, non fiction or picking up those novels that you've already worked so hard on and seeing them with fresh eyes. You do have talent and perhaps just as importantly, you have a methodical 'work ethic' approach to writing - all far too good to totally go to waste.

There , I've had my say. I've got more but you have to be on the Sunday chats:-)

Marcie Steele said...

Capt, I read your post yesterday and it touched me so much that I had to leave it until today, come back and read it again before commenting. (actually I'd just read your comment on FB, well that's that then, thought it was one of your cryptic comments and NEARLY replied, I suppose it is...good job I didn't, it would have come across as so insensitve!)

Anyway, I've commented over on NR's but just wanted to add that your post touched me because there have been so many times when I've felt like giving up. I've been writing for well over ten years and I'm still not published, but I do really enjoy it and I suppose that for me is the key.

Maybe after a break, it'll take the pressure away and you'll be free to start again.

Maybe after a break, you'll be glad that you made the decision and feel free not to start again.

Whatever decision you make will be right for you. I admire you if you want to quit, it takes guts to do that. Well done and good luck for the future.

Mel x

Jenny Beattie said...

Big hugs to you Kevin. I'm sure this hasn't been an easy decision but it's a brave one.

Just remember, it doesn't have to be forever!


Annieye said...

I too, have been thinking a lot about your decision, which I think is very brave and I can understand your reasoning, except for one comment.

'... I have no natural talent...'

I beg to differ on this. I've always admired your writing and been convinced you would be published one day.

I can understand what you say about the 'fun' aspect and about having to write for the market. Do you remember 'The Archies' back in 1969 - a manufactured pop group whose No.1 'Sugar Sugar' is, I think, one of the top 100 singles of all time? That scenario sums up publishing perfectly. The supremely talented don't always find fame; a name or a unique selling point will always find fame one way or another and then there are the rest of us who have to work for it and - there's no denying this - it is hard. Bloody hard.

All of us on various writing blogs can probably write to varying degrees of so-called talent (more so, I think, than the majority of the population). There are some of us who will find fame relatively quickly and some who have to wait until they are 84 - as we were recently told a at Caerleon.

Objectives must be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound. So to say that 'I will become a published writer by the time I am 84' is perfectly acceptable. What would that 84 year old writer say to you Kev? You are young, there is plenty of time, that is what they would say.

All the very best of luck for the future Kev, and please, please, do as I did in the mid 1980s when I arrived at the same place you are standing now. Keep writing for pleasure - you don't have to follow any rules or please anyone other than yourself.

Then one day you will sit in front of your computer, and you will meet a bunch of nice people who will inspire you. You will think to yourself 'I am ready for this. I can do it. I will give this 100%.'

Then you will be ready.

Huge hugs, and please don't give up the Sundays or blogging.

Beth said...

I'm still sad about this.
I would disagree about the single viewpoint, simple plot thing. I read plenty of complex stuff. Not that I can think of any examples right now of course.

Don't write it off forever, eh mate?

Hope to see you around still.

Anonymous said...

Caroline J: Yes, I'll still join in the Sunday chats when I can.

LDUK: I could certainly do with some consuming passion. Do you know where I can buy some?

Denise: It wasn't an easy decision but, I think, one I had to make if my life is to progress. I'll be in the chat room most Sundays, to talk about whatever.

Fia: I did give some serious consideration to writing non-fiction. I even talked about this with some of the people at Caerleon. For now it's an idea that's been shelved but I may revisit it at a later date.

Debs: I sincerely hope that I don't influence anyone else to think about giving up. Not my plan at all. I admire all of you writers for your tenacity.

Liz: Thanks for staying with me. I have a number of ideas in the pipeline but I'll be taking a longish break before doing anything about them.

ChrisH: The brave ones are the ones who struggle on. I don't consider myself brave for giving up. Thanks for the sentiment, though.

Caroline S: I've given up a hobby but I'm not planning a disappearing act so I'll still be around, though I'll be taking a break for a few weeks.

Liane: Don't worry, I'll still come over and pester you all at Novel Spaces ;o)

Calistro: You know me, I'm logical. It wasn't the procedural difficulties that stopped me, it was the lack of fun. I don't write well under pressure and definitely not if I'm unhappy, so it had to go I'm afraid. Sorry, that sounds gloomy but I'm actually looking forward to new things.

Helen: I'll still be around and I'll keep sending you reviews at Bookersatz.

Gonna B: Damn that logic. Mr Spock would be proud of me. My human half still wonders though.

Lane: I'm sad about my choice too, but it was the lesser of two evils (oops cliché). I don't plan to come back to writing but you never know.

L-Plate: You're not insensitive, it would have been my fault for being cryptic. I knew this would shock a few people, even myself to some extent. Good luck with your writing and don't follow my example; don't give up.

JJ: Thanks, much appreciated.

Annie: Many thanks for your insight. You're probably right but I've gone right off the whole business now. As I said to Lane, I'm not planning a return but I suppose I can't completely rule out the possibility. A lot needs to happen before then, starting with a big fat holiday in Canada...

B: Me too! That's what got me interested in the first place. And I will continue reading complex thrillers, SF and crime. I'm just not going to try to write them any more.

Rowan Coleman said...

I get why you are doing it and I thinks its just as brave to decide to stop trying at something as it is to keep going - to give yourself a chance at perspective, but make sure you get that perspective and don't rule out picking up the pen again - anyone who thinks as much about writing and what it means as you do must hold it very close to their heart. Good Luck!xxxx

Anonymous said...

I hope its just a break that you need. You are talented..I mean look at me? I was actually told I was crap once when I was a teen and thought I was brilliant and i had a long break but still ended up coming back. I personally think its inside you and sooner or later you will find your way back.

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Somehow I managed to miss your post on Novel Racers!

It's a shame but it's also very positive. I know for myself that it feels quite a relief to move onto something else, and new beginnings are always good.

So, bon chance!

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

ps just commented on your NR post as well.

lizziejane said...

So sorry to hear your decision. I agree with Annie re the 'talent', and can't help wondering if you've just been trying to do too many things at once. I do hope you rediscover the fun - and give the non-fiction a real go. It might be what you need to restore confidence.
Stay in touch - good luck!

Anonymous said...

Rowan: It's my hope that I might still be of some help to other writers, even if I don't still write myself. I do have a couple of ideas in that direction but need to chew them over for a while.

MotherX: We'll just have to see won't we. And for the record, you're obviously not crap.

Beleaguered Squirrel: Thank you. That's how I feel about it. I think.

LizzieJane: The non-fiction is only an idea; a possible side-line, once I've managed to find employment. You're right about trying to do too much. Realistically, once I've got a job, I suspect the time and inclination to write will die out all together. I will keep in touch whatever happens.

janewj said...

Kevin- I'm sorry to come late to this. I think the very fact that you feel like this indicates that you DO have talent. And, I know you do. Take a break now but never say never. A lot of very successful writers have felt like this a lot of the time. And even us less successful writers too! Before I got my first novel published I was on point of slitting my throat.You can do it (write not slit throat) and you will . Good to take the pressure off yourself for now but when you feel urge to start again - which you also will - follow that feeling. Hope to speak to you tomorrow morning and at future wannabe chats. love and hugs jxx